Hurley and ASU hoping luck changes in Las Vegas

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Bobby Hurley is hoping ASU comes up big in the Pac-12 tournament, which starts on Wednesday for the Sun Devils. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Bobby Hurley is hoping ASU comes up big in the Pac-12 tournament, which starts on Wednesday for the Sun Devils. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Tra Holder, fresh off being named first-team All-Conference, downplayed the significance of the Colorado game on his team’s NCAA Tournament resume. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tra Holder, fresh off being named first-team All-Conference, downplayed the significance of the Colorado game on his team’s NCAA Tournament resume. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The assembled media was waiting for a laugh, a smile, a smirk – but it wasn’t coming. Bobby Hurley wasn’t joking when he proclaimed, “I think we’re one of the best 9 seeds in the history of the Pac-12, to be honest.”

Hurley the basketball coach is taking aim at postseason play this week as his reeling Sun Devils (20-11, 8-10) open the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday against Colorado (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network) in Las Vegas.

[MORE: College sports stories]

Hurley the campaign manager is taking aim at the NCAA Tournament selection committee, reminding every microphone in sight exactly what his team accomplished in the non-conference portion of the schedule.

“I just think we’ve done enough,” said Hurley after practice Monday. “[You look at] our whole body of work, beating two conference champions of two major conferences in college basketball and not only beating them but doing it decisively. And in the case of Xavier, where you’re actually trying not to embarrass them in the final two minutes of the game.”

[RELATED: Hurley defends ASU NCAA Tournament resume: 'I know what we've accomplished']

Hurley is blunt and he’s also correct. The Sun Devils did demolish Xavier, currently ranked No. 3 in the country and eviscerate Kansas, now checking in at No. 9 but in the "what have you done for me lately" world of college basketball, the answer for the Sun Devils is not much.

ASU finished the season under .500 in conference play for the third straight season under Hurley. The Sun Devils limp into Las Vegas losers of four of their last five games. It's a slide leaving some to wonder, are they a Colorado loss away from the dreaded NCAA Tournament bubble?

[RELATED: Stanford holds on in wild finish to beat Arizona State 84-83]

“Our record should be better,” said Hurley. “We didn’t get the job done there and that’s on me but I do think our guys are excited to play. I think when you have had wins like [we’ve had], people know you can beat the very best teams and I think the NCAA Tournament is built on putting the best teams in the event – teams that are capable of beating the very best teams in the country.”

Tra Holder, fresh off being named first-team All-Conference, downplayed the significance of the Colorado game on his team’s NCAA Tournament resume.

“Obviously we hear it from people,” said Holder. “But our goal is to try and win a championship this week and then worry about the [NCAA Tournament] next weekend. I think we have a great opportunity in front of us and if we can just focus on that, the rest will take of itself.”

Winning in the conference tournament, however, is not exactly in the Sun Devils historic DNA. In 17 years of conference post-season play, ASU has managed to win a total of just four games. That, of course, matters not to Hurley. What does matter, though, is somehow rekindling the magic of November and December and making sure a season that started with a bang, won’t end with a whimper.

“[The NCAA Tournament] is on the back burner for me,” said Hurley. “This week is the main priority and we had a good day of practice today. We are going to travel to Las Vegas tonight and get ourselves ready to start playing the best basketball we’re capable of playing.”

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