Behind the leadership of head coach Bobby Hurley, the Arizona State Sun Devils have won their first NCAA Tournament game in a decade.
Now, the Devils turn their attention to a program with which Hurley is quite familiar.
ASU took care of fellow No. 11 seed St. John's 74-65 in a First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday night to advance to the NCAA Tournament round of 64. Awaiting the Devils in Tulsa, Oklahoma will be No. 6 seed Buffalo, which just so happened to be Hurley's first job as an NCAA head coach.
Hurley coached at Buffalo from just 2013-15 but led the Bulls to back-to-back Mid-American Conference regular-season championships and the 2015 MAC Tournament title, giving Buffalo its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. When Hurley accepted the head coaching job at ASU after the 2014-15 season, he was replaced by Nate Oats, who served as Hurley's assistant in Buffalo.
Oats led Buffalo to a 27-9 season and a first-round upset win over Deandre Ayton and No. 4 seed Arizona last season. This season, Oats and the Bulls are 31-3 and coming off their second straight MAC championship.
ASU's game vs. Buffalo will begin at 1 p.m. Arizona time Friday and will air on TNT.
"I see what you did there." -Bobby Hurley to the Selection Committee— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleABC15) March 21, 2019
Next up: Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/vhfjBwjYex
ASU's previous NCAA Tournament win came in 2009 when the James Harden-led Sun Devils defeated Temple in the round of 64.
The Sun Devils have advanced to the Big Dance in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1980-81. The win was also Hurley's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory as a head coach.
Freshman star Luguentz Dort led the Sun Devils with 21 points despite taking a nasty spill early in the second half. Senior and Phoenix South Mountain High School alum Zylan Cheatham added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sun Devils jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first half and then held on down the stretch. ASU struggled to score in the second half and committed 21 turnovers but made enough plays on defense to ensure St. John's didn't get closer than seven points late in the game.