TEMPE, Ariz. — As Buffalo's coach last season, Bobby Hurley took his team to one of the most difficult environments in college basketball, hoping it would build toughness and character.
The Bulls lost by 19 to Kentucky but being able to play against a team that long and talented helped lay the foundation for the best season in school history.
Hurley enjoyed the experience so much, he's taking his new team, Arizona State, to Lexington to face the No. 5 Wildcats on Saturday.
"We want to try and go to the top of the mountain and see what it's like there," Hurley, 44, said. "Sometimes it's not always good, but we're willing to go there and take the chances."
Hurley is a firm believer in testing his teams with tough nonconference games, that the experience, win or lose, will strengthen his team by season's end.
In two seasons at Buffalo, he scheduled games at Kentucky, Wisconsin and Texas A&M. The Bulls lost all three, but the games helped become the building blocks for a program record-tying 23 wins and its first NCAA Tournament trip last season.
Hurley brought the same mentality to the desert, scheduling tough nonconference games against Kentucky, Texas A&M, UNLV and Creighton. Three of those are on the road, marking the second time since 1989-90 that the Sun Devils will play three nonconference road games.
Arizona State beat Creighton on the road and knocked off then-No. 18 Texas A&M last weekend in Tempe, but the next step will be a big one.
Coach John Calipari has assembled another roster full of potential NBA players, and the Wildcats are considered national title contenders despite losing at UCLA a week ago. The game is at Rupp Arena, where UK (8-1) has won 26 straight. "It goes to a different level there," Hurley said. "The way people feel about basketball there, there's very few places in the world that can simulate that … environment."
Arizona State (6-2) has gotten off to a solid start in its first season under Hurley, the fiery former point guard at Duke.
No. 4 Iowa State 83, Iowa 82: Monte Morris hit a runner with nine seconds left as the host Cyclones (8-0) rallied from a 20-point deficit. Morris and Jameel McKay each had 20 points for the Cyclones, who scored the game's final nine points. Des Moines Register columnist Randy Peterson, who has covered sports in Iowa for four decades, suffered what the paper said is a broken leg when fans stormed the court after the win.
Alabama: Freshman starting point guard Dazon Ingram will miss the rest of the season with a broken foot, coach Avery Johnson said.
No. 8 Kentucky 72, L'ville 54: Makayla Epps made 10 of 11 shots en route to a season-high 24 points to lead the host Wildcats (8-0) over their archrival.
UF 91, Wisconsin 75: Florida's guards combined for 75 points to carry the visiting Gators (8-1).