Arizona State’s hopes for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament took a hit with two losses last week, but coach Bobby Hurley remains confident in his squad.
The sixth-seeded Sun Devils aim for a fresh start on Wednesday when they face No. 11 seed Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.
Arizona State (20-11, 11-9 Pac-12) closed the regular season with three road games, beating then-No. 7 Arizona before falling to then-No. 4 UCLA and USC.
“I’m happy with my team,” Hurley said. “I am very proud of our team. We’re now 20-11; we had a very tough finish to the regular season. Take any NCAA team and ask them to go to Arizona, UCLA and USC with their last three games and see what their record is. So I’m happy for my guys.”
Oregon State (11-20, 5-15) lost both meetings against the Sun Devils this season. Arizona State won 74-69 in Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 14 before pulling away late in a 68-57 victory on Feb. 2.
“Oregon State has played us well both games,” Hurley said. “They have young players. I’m sure they’ll play freely with nothing to lose.”
The Beavers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 69-66 win over Cal on Saturday. Sophomore guard Glenn Taylor Jr. scored a career-high 28 points in the victory.
Oregon State boasts a young roster led by freshman guard Jordan Pope, who leads the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game. Eleven different players have started at least one game this season for the Beavers, whose resume includes wins over USC and Colorado.
“We knew this was going to be a rough year. Have we left some out there? For sure. But it is all about doing things the right way,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “I’m proud of them. Yes, it hasn’t been pretty at times. … But they stay together, keep taking coaching and they enjoy each other.”
The winner of Wednesday’s contest advances to face No. 3 seed USC in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
–Field Level Media