DAYTON, Ohio - If one team stood out among the rest in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament, it was Arizona State.
The Sun Devils erupted for their finest offensive performance of the season, and defeated Nevada 98-73 to solidify themselves as the No. 11 seed in the West region.
He levitated #MarchMadness @SunDevilHoops pic.twitter.com/AFRIrdkK6u— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 16, 2023
“We’ve had other good games before but not like this,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “Every drill, every shot, they were dialed in.”
Hurley is right. There have been games this year — ones in primetime moments — that the Sun Devil offense is near peak form. They scored 87 against Michigan early in the season when the Wolverines were the No. 20 team in the nation. Desmond Cambridge Jr.’s buzzer-beater capped off an 89-point day for ASU. Against USC in a must-win game in the Pac-12 Tournament, they put up 77 points, which is seven points above the team average.
In an NCAA Tournament game, ASU scored a season-high 98 points. That is the highest total in an opening-round or First Four game in the history of the NCAA Tournament. It was also the second-highest point differential in the first round.
After a 53-point first half, the Sun Devils nearly duplicated that production in the second half. ASU shot 67.7% before halftime, and they finished the game with at 63.6%.
While they shot 52.4 (11-21) from deep, 36 points came inside the paint. They committed just seven turnovers.
Coming into the game, ASU was averaging just over 14 assists per-game. Twenty-one Sun Devil baskets came off an assist Wednesday night.
D.J. Horne led all ASU scorers with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Cambridge Jr. added 17, while his brother Devan Cambridge scored 15.
The @SunDevilHoops lead has grown to 30 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/UCwdl6uoeT— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 16, 2023
Off the bench, Jamiya Neal (16 points, 6-for-7 shooting) scored in the double-digits for the second-straight game. Luther Muhammad put up 12 points as a reserve.
The Sun Devils will face No. 6 seed TCU Friday night at 7 p.m. AZ time in Denver on truTV.