Bobby Hurley and Chris Mullin had plenty of positive NCAA Tournament experiences as players but they'll butt heads as coaches when No. 11 seeds Arizona State and St. John's meet Wednesday in the First Four at Dayton, Ohio. Hurley won a pair of NCAA titles (1991, 1992) while a point guard at Duke while Mullin helped St. John's to the 1985 Final Four.
The Red Storm limped down the stretch with four losses in five games, including an 86-54 setback against Marquette on Thursday in the Big East quarterfinals that marked their worst defeat of the season, but did enough to make the Big Dance for the first time under fourth-year coach Mullin. "St. John's was the last team in," NCAA Tournament selection committee chair Bernard Muir said on CBS after the bracket was revealed. The Sun Devils, meanwhile, are playing their best basketball, winning six of the last eight games after Friday's 79-75 overtime loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 semifinals as the No. 2 seed. Hurley proved prophetic after the setback, telling reporters: "When the committee looks at our season, I think that we'll be rewarded for being great in the non-conference, beating the No. 1 team in the country at one point (Kansas in December) and having a very strong effort in the league."
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ABOUT ST. JOHN'S (21-12): Junior guard Shamorie Ponds (team-highs of 19.5 points and 5.2 assists) was 4-for-14 from the field while scoring 13 against Marquette after averaging 22.0 in his previous three games. Junior guard Mustapha Heron (14.9 points), a transfer from Auburn, missed three of the last 10 games with right knee tendinitis and has averaged 11.3 points while playing in last four contests. Sophomore guard LJ Figueroa (14.3 points, club-best 6.2 rebounds) recorded five points and six boards Thursday after averaging 17.5 points in his previous four games.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (22-10): Senior forward Zylan Cheatham (11.8 points, team-high 10.4 rebounds) was the only Pac-12 player to average a double-double this season, recording 13 double-doubles and missing nine others by a total of five points and six rebounds after going for 14 and nine Friday. Luguentz Dort, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, averaged a club-most 16.1 points and reached double figures in 17 of 20 conference games. Sophomore guard Remy Martin (13.4 points, team-best 5.1 assists) scored 14 versus Oregon despite playing with a left groin injury and is 6-for-18 from the field in his last two games.
1. The winner meets sixth-seeded Buffalo, the Mid-American Conference champion, Friday in Tulsa, Okla., in the West Region. Hurley went 42-20 as Buffalo coach from 2013-15 before taking the Sun Devils reins.
2. Arizona State beat the Red Storm 82-70 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 2017 with sophomore F Romello White (8.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) scoring 22 in his seventh career game and Ponds recording 19.
3. The Big East had four teams reach the NCAA Tournament to include Marquette (five seed), Villanova (six) and Seton Hall (10), while the Pac-12 is also represented by Washington (nine) and Oregon (12).
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St. John's Red Storm vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Preview and Predictions 03-20-2019 in NCAAB
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Tempe, Arizona, USA.