ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU posts season-best half vs. Nevada, advances in NCAA Tournament

Mar 15, 2023, 7:25 PM | Updated: Mar 16, 2023, 7:31 am

Arizona State picked a good time to play its best half of the season.

In the Sun Devils’ start to the NCAA Tournament in the First Four on Wednesday against Nevada, ASU doubled up the Wolf Pack 53-26 through the first 20 minutes and used that start to finish off a 98-73 win.

The 53 points bested its previous season highs in a half of 46.

For the first half, ASU shot 67.7%. It made 17 of its first 23 shots and was up double digits a little over three minutes in.

The Sun Devils had five players in double figures: D.J. Horne (20), Jamiya Neal (16), Desmond Cambridge Jr. (17), Devan Cambridge (15) and Luther Muhammad (12).

The victory for the Sun Devils now pits them against sixth-seeded TCU on Friday at 7:05 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7.

The Horned Frogs’ last trip to the NCAA Tournament ended in a second-round loss to ASU rival Arizona last year, an absolute thriller in overtime. They went 21-12 this season, finishing fifth in the Big 12, and are led by a backcourt of junior Mike Miles and senior Damion Baugh. Both were Second Team All-Big 12 selections.

Miles’ efficient 17.3 points per game that finished third in the Big 12 came while he was shooting 49.7% from the field while Baugh’s 5.8 assists per game were also third in the conference.

Wednesday marked the sixth NCAA Tournament berth for the Sun Devils since 2003. The last three have come via the First Four round and ASU is now 2-1 in those games. It lost to Syracuse in 2018 and then beat St. John’s the following year before falling to Buffalo in the first round. All three games have been with Arizona State as the 11th seed.

The win keeps ASU’s hopes alive for advancing past the first weekend for the first time since 1995. The Sun Devils’ run as a No. 5 seed had wins over 12th-seeded Ball State and 13th-seeded Manhattan State before going down in the Sweet 16 to No. 1 seed Kansas.

Arizona State made the field of 68 after a few signature wins padded its 22-12 resume, including non-conference wins over Virginia Commonwealth, Michigan and Creighton, plus Pac-12 victories against Arizona and USC.

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