(Photo: Tyler Rittenhouse/WCSN)
The last time ASU basketball was ranked in the top five was the 1980-81 season under head coach Ned Wulk. The Sun Devils, led by Alton Lister, Fat Lever, and Byron Scott finished the season 24-4 and earned a two-seed in the big dance.
The team was upset in the second round though by the seventh-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, shattering their national championship hopes. ASU hasn’t finished a season with as high of a win percentage since then.
Fast forward almost 37 years to last Sunday, when ASU got another shot at Kansas on the national stage.
This time, it was No. 16 ASU shocking No. 2 Kansas 95-85 in a win that propelled the Sun Devils to number five in the latest AP poll.
It was a program-defining win for ASU, as they hadn’t beaten an AP top-five team since a win over No. 4 Stanford in January 1998. It also marks only the second time in school history ASU has started a season 9-0.
The new development means ASU is the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 for a second consecutive week, with No. 23 Arizona being the only other team ranked at all.
The Sun Devils have a week off before starting a stretch of three games in six days next Sunday. The only power-five team ASU plays in that stretch is Vanderbilt (3-6), and the combined record of the three opponents is 11-18.
ASU will then get eight days off for the Christmas Holliday before beginning Pac-12 play December 30 at Arizona.