Once upon a time, Bobby Hurley led Duke University to back-to-back NCAA championships in men's basketball. However, as the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils men's team, he is having a rough time. Hurley's second season with ASU again resulted in a losing record as the Sun Devils enter the Pac-12 Tournament this week as the No. 8 seed in the field with an opening-round matchup against No. 9 Stanford in the first game of the event. To make it to March Madness, the Sun Devils will have to win the conference tourney.
Regular season stats: 78.6 points per game scoring (61st of 351 NCAA Division I schools), 81.5 points per game allowed (335th of 351)
Conference record: 7-11 (8th place)
Overall record: 14-17, .452 winning percentage (229th of 351)
Home record: 9-7
Road record: 4-6
Best win: Just last week, the Sun Devils got a big win, beating Southern California, 83-82, at home. The Trojans still are in the hunt for a NCAA Tournament bid, so USC had a lot to play for in this game. But ASU came up big, making six steals on defense and hitting 46.4 percent of its three-point shots. On the season, the Sun Devils made just 36.6 percent of those long-distance shots, so this was a great, all-around performance by Hurley's team.
Worst loss: Getting swept by Washington State was the low point of the season for ASU. If the Sun Devils win those two games, they are looking at a possible postseason bid right now. The 91-83 loss to the Cougars at home on January 29, though, hurts the most, because you have to protect your home court against teams lower than you in the standings, and ASU failed to do that. The Sun Devils led at the half, but WSU shot 52.6 percent from the floor to come back in the second half for the rare Cougar road win.
Best Player: ASU is a high-scoring team so with four players scoring in double figures every time out, it's a balanced squad. However, junior guard Shannon Evans stands out because of his all-around game. A transfer from Buffalo, Evans averaged 15.2 points per game, 4.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals this season. He also hit 82.8 percent from the free-throw line this year, which could prove to be very important in the Pac-12 tourney if the Sun Devils end up in close games this week.
Pac-12 Tournament outlook: ASU needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament to extend its season, and the Sun Devils have the psychological edge on their first opponent (Stanford). After sweeping the Cardinal this year, ASU will be ready for anything that comes its way. If the Sun Devils advance to Thursday's action, they'd face the top-seeded Oregon Ducks, and that's where ASU will find trouble. The Ducks beat the Sun Devils by one point in Eugene this year in the team's only matchup, and Oregon surely wants to prove it deserves a top seed in the NCAA tourney. Beating ASU is a must for the Ducks.
Tickets to Session 1, featuring the Arizona State-Stanford and California-Oregon State games on Wednesday afternoon, can be purchased here.