ASU Marches on - East Valley Tribune: Sports

ASU Marches on

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Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2003 11:22 pm | Updated: 2:25 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

OKLAHOMA CITY - And so Arizona State extends its season for two more days.

The Sun Devils, playing perhaps their best overall game of the season, rode the 22 points of freshman sensation Ike Diogu to stun 19th-ranked Memphis, 84-71, Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA West Regional tournament.

The Devils turned around a one-point deficit at halftime with a 13-0 run at the start of the second half to take control, 43-35, at 16:24 and hold on to give coach Rob Evans his first NCAA tournament victory.

The Sun Devils will play Kansas on Saturday.

Diogu, who didn't shoot a foul shot in the first half, started the run with a pair of free throws, then hit a 3-pointer to put the Devils up for good, 37-35.

Another trey by Shawn Redhage gave ASU a five-point lead and allowed Evans to drop his team into a zone defense.

Everything Evans had planned for the Tigers (23-7) for the second half worked to perfection.

He brought Diogu out high to open the floor for lay-ins and the zone took away Memphis' power game.

The result was the Devils shot 69.6 percent in the second half while the Tigers, who took 17 3-pointers, shot 30.8 percent.

"My team played a great game tonight," Evans said. "I was really pleased with the poise they showed for their first time in the tournament."

Senior guard Curtis Millage had 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as he gave the Tigers guards fits.

"We executed our offense," Millage said.

The Devils built an 11-point lead that Memphis could only whittle down to 74-68 with a minute left.

"The threes. Ike steps out and hits a 3. Then (Jason) Braxton makes a 3. I knew we were in trouble," said Memphis coach John Calipari.

ASU was more efficient with its long-range shooting, make 6-of-14. Memphis was 7-of-28 from behind the arc.

"We shot way too many 3s for us," Calipari said.

But that was by design. The Devils dropped into the zone after a 1/2-court zone press.

"I wanted to pick them up a little bit and make them go away from (Chris) Massie," said Evans, who clearly outcoached Calipari. "I wanted to keep Ike out of foul trouble and make them a jump-shooting team."

Massie, the Tigers’ 6-9 star forward, had 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half and finished with 20 and 13. But he attempted only five shots in the second half, he took nine in the first.

Diogu had six points and two rebounds in the first half. Massie was tall, wide and strong and he got help from tall strong players.

But they couldn't locate Diogu outside. Diogu, on the national stage, made all six of his field-goal attempts in the second half.

"He's by far the best freshman I've seen play," said Memphis center Earl Barron.

Said Diogu, "They were doing a good job sagging down on me. (But) it was matter of time. I let (my offensive game) come to me."

The Devils got 18 points from Redhage, who has flourished since being promoted to the starting lineup for the last five games.

Memphis had a whopping 20 rebounds but the Tigers couldn't convert.

All the hard work the Devils put in foul shooting paid off as they made 12-of-17 in the final 3 1/2 minutes to put the Tigers away.

"Their senior leadership slowed when it got a little ragged," Calipari said. "Give them credit. They came to play and beat us."

The Devils (20-11) have now won 20 games under Evans for the first time as the fifth-year coach keeps checking off "firsts" for his program.

"This was tremendous for the school and the program," Evans said. "More importantly, it signifies where it's headed."

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