‘Battle-tested’ Sun Devils ready to fight for their Pac-12 Tournament lives
From top players getting injured to game cancellations due to COVID-19, it was a rocky season for the Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball team to say the least.
Despite the added difficulties, ASU finished the season at 10-13 (7-10 in conference) and now head into the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas as the No. 8 seed.
“All the adversity we’ve had to deal with, I think we’re battle-tested,” head coach Bobby Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday. “I think we’ve been in a lot of tough situations. We’re coming off a game where we performed very poorly. I hope we have the team’s full attention as we head into this week.”
A trip to the NCAA Tournament is on the line for the Sun Devils, who will aim to win four games in four days to be crowned Pac-12 Tournament champions.
First up is a Wednesday afternoon matchup against the Washington State Cougars.
In the two teams’ last meeting on Feb. 27, a Remy Martin three-pointer sealed the 77-74 overtime win for ASU. Hurley said the Sun Devils will need to shoot better this time around, but also understand what they’re playing for.
“We have to play with desperation. We know where we stand,” Hurley said. “At the same time, you can’t afford to look past any opponent any day. You’ve just got to know that you have that level of desperation, yet you can take a deep breath and relax and just let it rip.
“You’ve got to be ready to be at your peak and to give all the appropriate effort and energy necessary. It’s a blend of a lot of different things but you have to be desperate and you have to go after it, so that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
If ASU seals a win over the Cougars, the team will move on to face the No. 1 seed Oregon Ducks in the quarterfinals.
Hurley has no doubt that his team is capable of competing among conference foes, especially after many of their games this past season came down to the buzzer.
“We played a lot of these teams and we think we’ve been pretty competitive,” he said. “I know our record isn’t what we had hoped for in terms of being 7-10 in the conference. … We have a clean slate and an opportunity to compete to win a championship this week, so that’s kind of the mindset.”
ASU tips off against Washington State on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Tune to ESPN 620 AM for all the action.