DAYTON, Ohio — DJ Horne led a torrid first-half offensive display and finished with 20 points as Arizona State routed Nevada 98-73 in the final NCAA Tournament First Four game on Wednesday.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. had 17 and Jamiya Neal added 16 for the Sun Devils (23-12), who advance as a No. 11 seed to play No. 6 TCU in a West Region first-round game in Denver on Friday.
Arizona State’s Devan Cambridge contributed 15 points, and Luther Muhammad put up 12 points.
Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said, “It was a complete performance for us and you want to be playing this way at this time of year. That’s what it’s all about. I truly believe that our schedule and the games we’ve been in, especially late in the season, prepares you for these type of games. Across the board, just everyone contributed. Our defense was outstanding in the first half. Our bench was really good.”
The Sun Devils used a 22-2 run in the first half to build an insurmountable 53-26 halftime lead. Arizona State finished 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) from 3-point range to record their first NCAA Tournament win since 2019, which also was in the First Four.
Will Baker scored 17, Tre Coleman added 14 and Darrion Williams had 12 to lead Nevada (22-11), which allowed Arizona State to shoot 63.6 percent from the field for the game.
The game was a matchup of two high-profile coaches as Hurley got the better of Nevada’s Steve Alford.
Alford said, “We just didn’t have enough experience and you’ve got to give Arizona State credit. I’ve watched a bucketload of games on them and I thought that’s as well as they played all year. And it’s a great credit to them because if you can play some of your best basketball in March that’s really, really good. And I thought they were tremendous tonight.”
After Baker, the Wolf Pack center, connected on a 3-pointer in the opening seconds, Arizona State responded with the next 13 points and took command of the game.
Neal had two spectacular plays on consecutive trips down the court that put the Sun Devils ahead 25-12 midway through the first half.
His straightaway 3-pointer with a hand in his face was followed by a spinning layup under the basket, with the ball falling through the net as he fell hard to the court beyond the end line.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. connected on a pair of treys on back-to-back trips late in the first half.
Alonzo Gaffney then drained a long 3-pointer from the left side in front of Nevada’s bench and shrugged his shoulders in a motion reminiscent of Michael Jordan in the 1992 NBA Finals against Portland.
Arizona State’s eighth triple in 12 attempts put the Sun Devils up 51-22 with 2:29 left in the first half. The Sun Devils shot 8-for-14 from behind the arc before halftime.
Just 20 seconds into the second half, the Sun Devils continued their 3-point assault as Horne’s triple expanded the lead to 56-26. Nevada could get no closer than 19 in the second half.
–Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media
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