2. Arizona State Sun Devils
Coach Bobby Hurley might want to try his luck at some of Las Vegas’ high-roller slots this week. No, I’m not suggesting the former Duke guard start gambling, but the Sun Devils do continue to play all the right cards in Sin City.
A year after beating Kansas State and Xavier to claim the Continental Tire Invitational, Arizona State advanced to the title game of the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament following a 72-67 win over No.15 Mississippi State.
Forward Kimani Lawrence spotted up in the corner and connected from distance with 33 seconds to put ASU ahead by three, later sealing the victory with an emphatic dunk in the closing moments. The sophomore finished with a game-high 22 points.
While Lawrence’s performance captivated the T-Mobile Arena crowd, it was the healthiest guard Remy Martin has looked this year. An ankle injury for the sophomore lingered into the regular season, hampering Martin’s quickness and aggressiveness.
But after Friday’s game at San Francisco was postponed, ASU had a few extra days to get healthy and prepare for MSU. The additional time off paid dividends for Martin, who had 16 points, seven assists and no turnovers.
It was a nonconference tournament title in Las Vegas a year ago that sparked ASU’s 12-0 start. Though Utah State isn’t the same caliber opponent as Xavier last season, the concept of another tournament win could jump start another surge for the Sun Devils ahead of upcoming games against Nevada and Kansas.