Arizona State performs poorly, drops Pac-12 opener

The Arizona State Sun Devils barely entered their Pac-12 opener brimming with confidence. They suffered three lopsided losses in Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas and lost five of seven overall to start the season.

With the next three games on the conference schedule coming up against Oregon, USC and UCLA all on the road, they needed a win over Washington State in their own room.

Well, going home made no difference as the visiting Cougars cruised to a 51-29 victory Wednesday night in the conference opener for both teams at Desert Financial Arena. It was the lowest-rated game for ASU since 1946.

Now 2-6, it’s ASU’s worst start to the season since going 0-8 to open the 1969-70 campaign.

“It was disappointing for us in attack. I had a lot of teams here who could score points and tonight was as ineffective an attacking performance as ever, as a player or as a coach,” said said coach Bobby Hurley “It was disappointing, terribly bad, and we have to figure out how to do better.”

Earlier in the week, Hurley said his team’s biggest problem in the Bahamas was finishing halves. This time it was not the finish. It was the beginning. ASU was only lucky that Washington State also struggled.

The first half ended with the visitors ahead 18-10. ASU shot just 16.7 percent (4 for 24), including a dismal 2 for 15 from long range. They were 0-for-6 from the line.

Even the simplest blows did not fall. With 1:13 to go in the half, Marreon Jackson ran down the field after a Cougar turnover, only to miss a layup.

Washington State (6-1) was only marginally better, shooting 24.1 percent (7 for 29) with a 2 for 10 from deep. The Cougars were 2 of 7 from the line with the first mark coming with 1:55 left in the half.

Each team had nine turnovers but the Cougars enjoyed a 29-19 advantage on the boards.

December 1, 2021;  Tempe, Arizona, USA;  Arizona Sun Devils head coach Bobby Hurley reacts during action against the Washington State Cougars at Desert Financial Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

Hurley said he felt lucky his team didn’t face a bigger deficit.

“We scored 10 points. It’s appalling. Really appalling. And still behind by eight. I’m like, ‘Wow, we can play so badly and still be behind by eight. That must have been encouraging for the second half and we couldn’t be much better in the second half,” he said.

ASU’s fate was sealed in the opening minutes of the second half. His game remained stagnant as Washington State started to take a few shots, turning the game into a blowout.

Trailing 33-16, Jackson hit a three-pointer on the shot clock and Washington State grabbed the rebound. The result at the other end was a Mouhamed Gueye dunk that gave the Cougars a 19-point lead. It got worse from there.

ASU ended up shooting an abysmal 21% (12 for 57) with a 3 for 26 from long range. DJ Horne had a team best 12 going 5 for 13 from the field. No one else has come close to double the numbers. True freshman Enoch Boakye had eight rebounds and three blocked shots in 17 minutes.

“It felt like a circus there. We were doing weird things even at the start of the game. I’m sure confidence and self-doubt come into play for every guy who does something negative. It goes on somehow. kind of demoralizes the whole band,” Hurley said.

Washington State found itself 31 percent (18-for-59) from the field and 29.2 percent (7-for-24) from deep, but enjoyed a 53-39 advantage on the boards and a 22-14 point advantage in the Paint. Each team returned the ball 15 times.

“Just really stunned how bad the game was, like just in the first half they were really struggling to score and we were trying to defend. It’s not like we weren’t in competition. We were making them miss. It usually gives you some confidence to go the other way and make things happen. We missed layups. When you have a chance to get a shot wide open against a really good team. defensively, you have to do it. We didn’t,” Hurley mentioned.

Players don’t use the fact that they’ve played three games in as many days and then taken a long trip home as an excuse.

“We didn’t hit any shots,” Jackson said. “I can’t count a game where the guys who were supposed to hit shots all hit shots consistently, giving up rebounds defensively. There’s just a lot going on right now. We can’t keep on linger. We knew it was going to be difficult to arrive with a brand new team. We are facing adversity at the moment and we will react.”

The Sun Devils have yet to play a game with their full allocation of scholarship players, with second-year forward Marcus Bagley missing his fourth straight game after aggravating a knee injury in the Nov. 15 game against North Carolina. Florida.

ASU now hits the road for a Sunday game at Oregon. He will then have four non-conference games before resuming Pac-12 play against the Los Angeles Schools.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.