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ASU men's basketball announces 2015-16 nonconference schedule

New head coach Bobby Hurley outlined his new non-conference look.

Bobby Hurley press conference
Ray Anderson sits alongside Bobby Hurley at a press conference on April 10, 2015. Bobby Hurley has been officially hired on for ASU's mens basketball.

ASU men's basketball announced its 2015-16 nonconference schedule on Thursday, headlined by facing Kentucky on the road. 

The program's non-conference slate came before a press conference with new ASU head coach Bobby Hurley, who spoke about his recruiting class, schedule and more.

Hurley said that after getting a better feel for his team in recent weeks, he was ready to be more aggressive in his non-conference slate.

"After working with them for a couple of weeks, I've been getting a better feel for them," Hurley said. "It gave me the confidence to try and aggressively schedule some games that I think are going to lift the profile of our out-of-conference and I believe it pays dividends when the NCAA Tournament committee is in that room examining your resume."

Hurley said the biggest goal in scheduling is to make their non-conference more appealing to the NCAA Tournament selection committee and to gain added exposure for the program.

"If you are willing to play and schedule games like the Kentucky game on Dec. 12, and St. John's on a neutral site and the Legend's Classic in Brooklyn," Hurley said. "All those events are important for us in terms of getting the exposure we want for the program and also challenging our players to play those quality teams."

Hurley said that his non-conference experiences last season at Buffalo gave him the confidence to go after Kentucky in 2015-16. 

"Before we pulled the trigger on at Kentucky and St. John's, I felt that I wanted to get more familiar, more comfortable with the guys to think that we could contend in those kind of games," Hurley said. "I thought it paid dividends this past season for (Buffalo) to go to Rupp Arena and play that type of game and play at Wisconsin. Those games helped us in conference play because they really challenged ourselves and we played a tough schedule."

Hurley's Buffalo team led Kentucky at halftime at Rupp Arena before eventually falling to the then-undefeated Wildcats.

The Wildcats went 38-1 last year, losing out on an undefeated season in the NCAA Final Four, and departed an impressive cast of players to the NBA draft: Karl Anthony-Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Trey Lyles, Devon Booker and the Harrison brothers. 

As high profile as that matchup with Kentucky is, it's the only current game against a 2014-15 RPI top-50 team on the schedule (though ASU could end up facing NC State in the Barclays Center). ASU had the No. 185 ranked nonconference strength of schedule last season, per the NCAA

The Sun Devils are led by first-year head coach Hurley, who returns four starters from the 2014-15 team and he has made three late additions in Maurice O'FieldObinna Oleka and Shannon Evans.

Full nonconference schedule (2014-15 RPI in parenthesis)

Friday, Nov. 13 vs. Sacramento State (141)

Nov. 15-19 Legends Classic (Two games in Tempe)

Monday, Nov. 23 Legends Classic At Barclays Center vs. LSU, Marquette or NC State (65/145/32) 

Tuesday, Nov. 24 Legends Classic At Barclays Center vs. LSU, Marquette or NC State (65/145/32)

Sunday, Nov. 29 vs. UC Santa Barbara (98)

Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Creighton (157)

Saturday, Dec. 5 vs. Texas A&M (68)

Saturday, Dec. 12 at Kentucky (3) 

Wednesday, Dec. 16 at UNLV (116)

Saturday Dec. 19 vs. Houston Baptist (290)

Tuesday, Dec. 22 vs. St. John's (Las Vegas) (52)

Monday, Dec. 28 vs. Cal State Bakersfield (301)

Reach the reporters at jmjanss1@asu.edu and fardaya@asu.edu or follow @jjanssen11 and @fardaya15 on Twitter.

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