As ASU basketball prepares to play its first road series of the Pac-12 schedule, the importance of road success has never been higher.
Good teams defend their home court. Great teams strip an opponent of the advantage.
When Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley was hired in April 2015, he was one month removed from taking Buffalo to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
While the Bulls were eliminated in the Round of 64, the appearance marked the high point of a swift rebuild under Hurley.
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Similarly tasked with turning the Sun Devils into a contender both in the Pac-12 and on a national scale, Hurley’s quickly propelled ASU into the spotlight with multiple top-20 recruiting classes, marquee victories over Xavier, Mississippi State and Kansas (twice) as well as the program’s return to the NCAA Tournament following a three-year absence.
Now in his fourth season, the definitive factor of success eluding Hurley is winning on the road.
Since he arrived in Tempe, ASU is 12-23 in true road games, failing to exceed four victories in each of the past three years.
But these woes extend beyond Hurley’s time.
ASU hasn’t posted a winning record on the road in a decade, last accomplishing the feat during the 2008-09 season when Houston Rockets guard James Harden was a sophomore.
The more pressing issue?
Dating back to January 2010, ASU is without a weekend sweep in conference play over its last 34 attempts. The last time the Sun Devils swept a road series, the conference was still known as the Pac-10.
In the time since, they’ve been swept 16 times.
Ahead of upcoming games at California and Stanford, the need for ASU to win on the road has become more pressing than ever.
At 10-4 (1-1) in a relatively weak Pac-12 with unfavorable losses to Princeton and Utah at home, the Sun Devils have little room for error with the league expected to receive few bids to the NCAA Tournament.
With a 40-19 at Wells Fargo Arena since 2015, winning at home has not been a problem for ASU. Taking care of business away from Tempe will be the Sun Devils’ opportunity to improve their resume and avoid the NCAA Tournament bubble come March.