ASU, Syracuse want to prove they belong in tournament

by Leon Thompson March 16, 2018, 0:48
ASU, Syracuse want to prove they belong in tournament

Playing a non-conference schedule that included Kansas, Syracuse, Oregon, Clemson, Baylor, TCU and Ohio State, the Tigers limped to an 0-13 start and didn't win a game until January 1.

"It's been a dream of mine", said senior Tra Holder.

Can No. 4 Arizona pick up a lopsided win over No. 13 Buffalo when the two meet in the NCAA Tournament tonight at 9:40PM ET? With Orange defenders smothering any attempt at the basket, he kicked it out to Evans in the left corner. It created a clean look, but his 3-pointer missed.

"We understand this is just the beginning", Syracuse guard Frank Howard said.

And just like that, it was all over.

Syracuse rallied from a second-half deficit to take down Arizona State, 60-56, in a First Four game in Dayton on Wednesday night.

The Sun Devils really struggled at times to crack the Orange's 2-3 zone. ASU opened the second half with an 8-0 flurry that gave it a lead and control just 89 seconds into the second stanza.

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That's the Bahamas, where Ayton was blowing up even before after he had 18 points and 17 rebounds there in a summertime exhibition game against North Carolina - before he started his sophomore year of high school. Serbian 7-footer Dusan Ristic was back for a chance to become the program's all-time wins leader (he got it).

"I regret all the negative attention that has been focused on our program", Miller recently told reporters. "We were just executing our offense". Of the 21 field goals they made, 19 of them came off of assists.

The Wildcats' 7-1, 260-pound Pac-12 Player of the Year (and Freshman of the Year) will be the difference in this ballgame. "Making the tournament is always the biggest step, the first step to change a program, so being able to hand over the keys to some of these guys here and being able to make this tournament and allow them to experience it, it's going to be great for their growth". Arizona State went from a top-ten team to start 2018 to a team that lost six of their last seven games. The Orange went on a 8-0 run after another Boeheim timeout, with a three-point play from Brissett putting the exclamation point on the spurt. The Wildcats have as much talent as any team in the country - led by Ayton, who piled up 64 points and 32 rebounds over the final two games of the Pac-12 tournament. That was something the Sun Devils could hang their hats for most of the season, but lately that has not been the case.

"It was across the board", Hurley said. "We're not good enough to do that, but we did it and got away with it".

Combined with the missed shots was a problem the Sun Devils encountered in last week's Pac-12 Tournament loss to Colorado: poor free throw shooting.

The Bulls have a date with the No. 4 seed Arizona Wildcats and ESPN's No. 3 ranked prospect in the upcoming National Basketball Association draft, Deandre Ayton. But they finished 12-6 in the conference, tied for second, and got hot at the right time in the tournament.

On the season Arizona State is 5-2 SU and 5-1-1 ATS against teams that made the Big Dance.

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