Friday, December 21, 2018

No. 18 Arizona State aiming for eye-opening win over top-ranked Kansas

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley gets animated after a call against the Sun Devils during the first half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley gets animated after a call against the Sun Devils during the first half, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Tempe, Ariz. — It’s been since 1981 and has only happened once in school history.

Suffice it to say, beating — or even just playing — the No. 1 ranked college basketball team in the country does not happen all that often around the Arizona State campus.

But that’s exactly what the 18th-ranked Sun Devils (8-2) will get an opportunity to do at 8 p.m. Saturday night, when top-ranked and unbeaten Kansas (10-0) comes to town for a Top 20 clash at Wells Fargo Arena.

Not that anyone needed the reminder, but there has been a noticeable buzz surrounding the program this week, with the showdown and rematch of last year’s ASU win at Allen Fieldhouse looming.

“Since preseason, once our nonconference schedule came out and everybody saw we had Kansas at home, it’s been the most-talked-about game all year,” senior transfer Zylan Cheatham said Thursday. “It doesn’t hurt that we’re both ranked right now. They’re No. 1, undefeated, so I’m expecting it to be a big time game, big time atmosphere, big time players doing what we love.”

ASU coach Bobby Hurley said the opportunity to face Kansas was a chance for his players, along with everyone in and around Phoenix, to see what elite-level basketball looks like, up close and personal.

“I just think it’s a great thing for our fans, for the university, for college basketball,” Hurley said of having the country's top-ranked team in town. “It’s a spotlight game. It’s going to be a big time atmosphere and our players are juiced for it.”

Asked to elaborate on what Bill Self’s squad brings to the matchup, Hurley talked first of KU’s consistent success.

“It’s special because of what they’ve done and what they’re all about,” he said. “Their program is what a lot of programs are striving to be on a consistent basis. And to see that opponent here and have an opportunity to play them is a great experience for us.

“They bring so much to the table. The ranking is one thing, but (also) the players they have in the locker room and a Hall of Fame coach. … I’m so looking forward to it. I know what it’ll be. I know what the energy and electricity (will be) in the crowd and we’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain. … We want to see two heavyweights going at it and we’re looking forward to seeing where we stand.”

Added Cheatham, who redshirted last season, was still in Phoenix when ASU upset KU in Lawrence and also was a part of a San Diego State team that played No. 1 Kansas a few years back: “Obviously we know what’s at stake (and) we know what kind of team we’ve got coming in here. Two ranked teams battling it out, Saturday evening, prime time hours; I think it’s going to be a show.”


David Robinett 1 year, 6 months ago

We’re Going to come together and kick your ass!

Joe Ross 1 year, 6 months ago

This game could seriously be a loss for Kansas. Let's face it: we're not going undefeated. And the play of late gives a lot of cause for worry. Without Azubuike protecting the middle, the fact that ASU is ranked 18th and sees Kansas as vulnerable, and the fact that they'll be playing with juice at home all comes together to create the perfect storm for a loss. Kansas will be favored by Vegas, but the intangibles are on the side of Arizona State in this game.

Dirk Medema 1 year, 6 months ago

Definitely agree that it's highly unlikely that anyone goes undefeated ever again, much less this team.

Obviously, Dok figuratively and literally is a big part of the team. I'm not familiar with ASU's roster to know whether it is the type that can exploit his absence. Remember when we were considered almost too deep in the front court?

The game obviously has the attention of the players and coaches, and it will be the first true road game for a few of our players, but it would seem that it will still be a far cry from going to Hylton, Manhattan, … This is especially the case on the Saturday before Christmas. While I wouldn't expect it to be like our home away from home in Boulder, my guess is there will be a significant crimson and blue contingent. We've had teams in the past that actually played better on the road because it allowed the players to come together and close ranks so to speak.

Though many of the players weren't involved in last year's game, I think the foul taste from it has been shared. My guess is it's been shared with the freshman and all our guys will be extra juiced for this game.

Either way, it will be a good test to see where we're at.

Mike Greer 1 year, 6 months ago

It's hard to beat a Bill Self coached Kansas team twice in a row. I hope that holds up Saturday!

Barry Weiss 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm here in Phoenix and going to the game tomorrow night. I will tell you I am already seeing KU license plate and other signs our fans will be out in force! This will be a super tough true road game. This game is big!

Tony Bandle 1 year, 6 months ago

This game is an important step in the development of this team, but compared to March, it is just a litmus test for the coaching staff to judge where the team is right now.

I say Dok stays off that ankle until conference play...even if he is 100%. Big guys and leg injuries are too iffy to take a risk. We might lose this game even if he had played at full strength and Eastern Michigan will be a walk over, so take no chances.

It just breaks my heart to Silvio on the bench knowing how valuable these 10 games would have been to his development....friggin' NCAA!!!

Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 6 months ago

Lawson, McCormack and Lightfoot will be just fine in Dok's place for this and the next game. Jumping out strong in the first half on the road is a huge key to this game and one that we have been a little lax in earlier so far. The pride HAS to be there for every minute played by every player without exception and late-game come-from-behind theatrics must not be acceptable. Let's see what they're made of with this game!

Bryce Landon 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm still mad about last year's game, when we blew a 13-point lead, got clowned as hard as we did in the second half, and lost by 10 in our own gym. So the best Christmas present the Jayhawks could give is a victory tonight. I don't care if we win by 4 or by 40, I want the Jayhawks to get revenge on the Sun Devils!

Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 6 months ago

40 would be the Red Ryder BB Gun of all Christmas presents!

Dane Pratt 1 year, 6 months ago

Just looked up the all time record against ASU and to my surprise we are 5-5. Except for last season I don't remember playing them.

Dyrk Dugan 1 year, 6 months ago

1981, NCAA 2nd round. The Sun Devils were the 2 seed, but the Kansas Jayhawks ripped them 88-71, behind Tony Guy’s 36 points.

Dyrk Dugan 1 year, 6 months ago

2003, NCAA 2nd round. After barely surviving in the 1st round, Kansas pounds Arizona St 108-76. Ike Diogu had a tough day, as four Jayhawk starters score at least 18 points.

Dane Pratt 1 year, 6 months ago

So we are beating them in March when it counts.

Craig Carson 1 year, 6 months ago

Why are people acting like ASU isn't vulnerable...they looked like crap in their loss versus an undermanned Vanderbilt team .KU looked like they made some strides in their last game ..sure KU could lose but they could also dominate ASU

Steve Zimmerman 1 year, 6 months ago

No, they're not vulnerable. But I doubt KU will dominate ASU, either. If KU can continue shooting, defend, getting significant contribution from bench like Vandy did, we can surely compete. But not dominate. Hurley is very familiar with KU offense. Hopefully, our Hall of Famer and his staff is well aware of that.

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