Arizona St. Stomps Memphis 84-71
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Ike Diogu was Arizona State’s freshman sensation all season. He led the way again in the NCAA tournament.
The Pac-10 freshman of the year scored 22 points, including 10 in a key second-half run, as Arizona State beat Memphis 84-71 Thursday night in the first round of the West Regional.
Diogu led Arizona State in scoring in the regular season. He didn’t miss a beat in his first NCAA tournament game.
Diogu did it all against Memphis, shooting 9-of-11 from the floor with a variety of post moves and even stepped out to hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 13-0 second-half run that opened up a 10-point lead for the Sun Devils.
His two-handed dunk with 2:41 left made it 70-59, squelching any late rally and capped the Sun Devils’ victory in their first NCAA tournament since 1995.
Tenth-seeded Arizona State (20-11) moves on to Saturday’s second round against either No. 2 seed Kansas or 15th-seed Utah State, which played later Thursday night.
The win also perhaps exercised an Oklahoma City demon for Sun Devils coach Rob Evans.
Evans was the coach at Mississippi in 1998 when the Rebels came to Oklahoma City for the NCAA tournament but were upset by Valparaiso in the first round on Bryce Drew’s famous buzzer beater.
Shawn Redhage added 18 points and Curtis Millage scored 17 for Arizona State. The Sun Devils shot 52 percent from the floor.
Chris Massie scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds for seventh-seeded Memphis (23-7), which came in with high hopes in its first tournament appearance since 1996.
That was also the last time Memphis coach John Calipari was in the tournament. He took Massachusetts to the Final Four before bolting to the NBA for three seasons.
The Tigers won the National Invitational tournament last year when they thought they were snubbed by the NCAA.
Back in the NCAA, Memphis had little go its way Thursday night, shooting just 36 percent from the floor and 7-of-28 on 3-pointers.
The teams were tied or changed leads 15 times in a fast-paced first half before Memphis used a 5-0 run behind Rodney Carney’s long 3-pointer that made it 33-30. The Tigers led 33-32 at halftime.
Diogu took over in the second.
Two free throws by Diogu started the Sun Devils’ game-changing run. He then hit a 3-pointer from the left side of the arc and Redhage followed with another.
Diogu, who hit only seven 3-pointers all season, then struck again from almost the same spot a minute later. He followed that with a nifty up-and-under move past a defender for a layup that made it 45-35 with 15:27 left.
Memphis cut it to 50-45 on Anthony Rice’s 3-pointer but after a timeout, Diogu hit another layup, Tommy Smith hit a short jumper and Memphis never threatened the lead again.