DJ Horne scored 20 points and Arizona State raced to a big halftime lead and finished with the highest point total in a First Four game, burying Nevada 98-73 on Wednesday night.
Arizona State (23-12) led 53-26 at the half and kept scoring on the second en route to the rout.
The first-half result was a season-high for Arizona State, which advanced as the No. 11 seed to face TCU in a West Region first-round game on Friday in Denver.
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«It was a complete performance for us. You want to play this way at this time of year,» Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. «That’s what it’s about. I really think our schedule and the games we’ve been in, especially late in the season, prepare you for these types of games. And it was across the board, everyone contributed. Our defense was outstanding in The first half».
Arizona State shot 67.7% of their shots from the ground and forced 10 turnovers in the first half, putting together a 22-2 run in eight minutes to pull away, while keeping up the defensive pressure and forcing the Wolf Pack to the perimeter .
«I think when we start out like this, it feeds off everyone on the team and builds energy, and I feel like it showed tonight,» Horne said.
The Sun Devils shot an astonishing 64% from the floor, much better than their season average of 41.3%. They shot 11 of 21 (52.4%) from 3-point range, with Horne making four of his five attempts.
Desmond Cambridge Jr., a transfer from Nevada, had 17 points, Jamiya Neal had 16 and Desmond’s brother, Devan Cambridge, added 15 for Arizona State.
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Will Baker scored 17 and Tre Coleman had 14 for the Wolf Pack (22-11). One of Nevada’s best players, Kenan Blackshear, fouled three early and sat on the bench for more than five minutes of the first half. Averaging 14.4 per game on the season, he was limited to four points in this one.
«You’ve got to give the state of Arizona credit,» Nevada coach Steve Alford said. «I’ve seen a lot of games on them, and I thought that’s the best they’ve played all year. That’s a huge credit to them, because if you can play some of your best basketball in March, that’s really, really Well.»
Both teams appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. The Sun Devils beat the St. Johns in the First Four that season, but lost in the round of 64.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack shot better in the second half (60.7% compared to 33.3% in the first), but couldn’t get out of the hole Arizona State put them in early on. Nevada couldn’t get close to 19 points after halftime.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils forced 11 turnovers and kept up the pressure in the second half after Nevada was already crushed. They were 11 of 21 (52.4%) from beyond the 3-point line.
«We already played good defense, so we’re holding on to that,» Desmond Cambridge Jr. said. «But when our offense works like that, we’re a tough team to stop.»
DID YOU KNOW?
Arizona State has forced double-digit turnovers in 60 of 66 games since last season.
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DAYTON ON THE TOP
The University of Dayton Arena has now hosted 133 NCAA Tournament games, more than any other venue in the country. The First Four has been played here since 2011, except for 2020 when the event was canceled due to the pandemic, and 2021, when it was played in the COVID-19 bubble in Indiana.
UD has an agreement to host the First Four through 2026. There is discussion aimed at expanding the March Madness field beyond its current 68 schools, but the situation is still too speculative to foresee what that could mean for the March Madness event. Dayton.
The First Four is one of the biggest events of the year for the city, with an estimated economic benefit to the region of more than $5 million and national television exposure for the mid-size city that is often dwarfed by nearby Columbus. and Cincinnati.