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Arizona State Sun Devils attempt to improve history in NIT

For the 13th time in its history, Arizona State will be playing in the National Invitation Tournament.

The NIT is the secondary tournament in college basketball behind the NCAA Tournament, which determines the national champion.

The Sun Devils will play the defending national champion UConn Huskies in Hartford Wednesday — one of 16 first round games over a two-day period. The Huskies (20-14) just missed reaching the NCAA Tournament, losing the American Athletic Conference championship game to Southern Methodist 62-54.

This is the second time in three years ASU has settled for an NIT bid. Herb Sendek’s team earned a 3-seed in 2013, bowing out in the second round. In fact, this is ASU’s fourth trip to the nation’s oldest postseason collegiate basketball tournament in Sendek’s nine years as head coach.

The Sun Devils are 6-12 all-time in the tourney and have played 11 of the 18 contests on their home floor in Tempe.

Here’s a look at ASU’s history in the NIT.


Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix combined for 43 points in an 83-68 first-round win at home against Detroit. The Sun Devils shot a blistering 55 percent from the floor and crushed the Titans on the glass, outrebounding them 39-20.

In the second round, the Devils traveled to Waco to take on the 2nd-seeded Bears, losing 89-86.

Baylor led by six with under a minute to play, but the Sun Devils got to within two with :26 left before the game turned into a free-throw shooting contest. Pierre Deshawn Jackson led the Bears with 26 points, 17 of which came from the charity stripe.

Baylor would go on to defeat Providence, BYU and Iowa to capture the tournament championship.


The stage was set for the Sun Devils to make an extended run in the NIT. After a 22-win season that fell short of an NCAA bid, ASU got a 1-seed and a first-round home game against Jacksonville, a team from the Atlantic Sun Conference who came to Tempe with a 19-12 record.

The Devils led 11 points with under four minutes to play but the Dolphins rallied. Ben Smith completed the comeback when he canned a 24-foot jumper with 1.5 seconds left, and Jacksonville left Tempe with a stunning 67-66 win — the first postseason win in the school’s history.

Smith finished with 26 points for Jacksonville, while Rihards Kuksiks led the Sun Devils with 21.


James Harden’s freshman year in Tempe ended in disappointment that the Sun Devils were snubbed by the NCAA Tournament.

But ASU was rewarded with a top-seed for the NIT, which opened with a home game against Alabama State. Harden poured in 25 points while Ty Abbott chipped in with 15 for the Devils in a a 64-53 win.

Next up, Arizona State hosted Southern Illinois in Tempe. Harden again paced the Devils with 16 points and ASU held the Salukis to 29.3 percent shooting in a 65-51 win.

In the quarterfinals, a Florida team featuring three future NBA players — Marreese Speights, Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons — eliminated the Sun Devils 70-57, punching a ticket to Madison Square Garden in the process.


This would turn out to be the second straight time ASU would be bounced out of the NIT by UNLV. Ricky Morgan had 21 points and Odartey Blankson added 19 for the Rebels as they held off the Sun Devils 89-78 in a first-round matchup.

Ike Diogu had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the loss for Arizona State. It was Diogu’s last game as a Sun Devil. Three months later, the Golden State Warriors made him the ninth pick in the NBA Draft.


UNLV eliminated the Sun Devils in a first-round game, 96-91. Awvee Storey scored a career-high 29 points in his final game at ASU, but it wasn’t enough as the Rebels hit 13-of-14 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

Dalron Johnson had 26 points for UNLV while Marcus Banks added 23.


In the opening round in Tempe, Arizona State held off New Mexico State 83-77 in what was Eddie House’s final collegiate home game. House pumped in 32 points as ASU rallied from 16 points down at the half.

In the second round, the Devils lost to a North Carolina State team coached by Herb Sendek, 60-57.


Jeremy Veal scored a game-high 30 points, but it wasn’t enough as Arizona State dropped a first-round game to Hawaii 90-73 in Honolulu.

Veal hit 2-of-3 from three-point range, but the rest of the team connected on just 2-of-16 from behind the arc while shooting 39 percent from the floor.


ASU had beaten BYU 106-95 in its 1993-94 season opener, but the Cougars got revenge in the postseason, winning 74-67 in Provo in the first round of the NIT.

BYU’s Russell Larson sat out much of the second half in foul trouble, but still led the Cougars with 22 points in the win.


Othella Harrington scored 21 of his 25 points after halftime and the Sun Devils went cold, scoring just one basket in the final six-and-a-half minutes and Georgetown took down ASU 78-68 in a first-round game in Tempe.


Led by the trio of Jamal Faulkner, Mario Bennett and Stevin Smith, ASU knocked off UCSB on the road, 71-65. In the second round, the Devils hosted Utah and fell to the Utes, 60-58.


The Sun Devils’ run to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament in Tempe only got them to 14 wins in head coach Bill Frieder’s first season on the job, but it was enough to earn them an NIT bid. But there would be no run in this tournament as Long Beach State hammered ASU 86-71 at tue University Activity Center in the first round.

Tyrone Mitchell, who started his career at ASU, led Long Beach with 17 points and 10 assists.

“I felt I didn’t get a fair shot when I was here,” said Mitchell. “I kind of wanted to show them I can play. I had a good time, I felt right at home.”


Under first-year head coach Bob Weinhauer, the Sun Devils finished tied for third in the Pac-10 with a 12-6 record. But that wasn’t enough to get an invite to the “Big Dance”.

They settled for an NIT berth, and beat Cal State Fullerton 87-83 in the opener. In the second round, they lost to TCU, 78-76. Darrell Browder had 29 points and Doug Arnold 26 for the Horned Frogs. Byron Scott had 33 points and 10 assists in the loss for ASU.