The Arizona State Sun Devils did a good job of taking on the best teams in the Pac-12 and were competitive even if they didn’t necessarily win them.
The challenge for Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley this week is to prepare his team for less competition. ASU was game Thursday night, turning California around 71-44 at Desert Financial Arena.
It was the sixth win in the Sun Devils’ last seven outings (13-16, 9-10) and also marked a bit of redemption for ASU, who lost to Cal 74-50 at Berkeley on 2 january.
It was the game right before the Sun Devils went on hiatus due to COVID. The team that has spoken for the past three weeks bears little resemblance to this one.
ASU shot 53.6 percent (30 for 56) for the game which included 64.3 percent (18 for 28) in the second half. ASU also finished with a 38-34 edge on the boards. It’s an area he lost by six when the teams first played. The Sun Devils also had 18 assists on 30 field goals scored and finished with a 27-2 advantage in quick break points.
Cal (12-18, 5-14), which is 10th in the Pac 12, shot just 30.5 percent (18 for 59) and the 44 points marked a low for an ASU opponent this season. He also scored the fewest runs allowed by an ASU team under Hurley in a Pac-12 game.
The Golden Bears are without second-leading scorer Andre Kelly, who is out with a season-ending foot injury.
ASU only took a 31-25 lead in the locker room despite leading 12 in the first half.
But the Sun Devils started the second half with a 17-8 run with a quick layup from Jay Heath giving ASU a 48-33 advantage. The lead swelled from there.
It was a balanced effort for ASU as five players finished in double figures, led by guard DJ Horne with 13. Jay Heath and Kimani Lawrence each added 12 while Alonzo Gaffney and Marreon Jackson contributed with 11 each.
Lawrence also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds within a board of his seventh double-double. His points total also moved him 27 points away from the 1,000-point career milestone.
Jalen Graham had eight points, four blocks, three assists and two steals.
Cal was led by second-year goaltender Jalen Celestine with 11 points and three assists. Senior forward Grant Anticevich had a team-high six rebounds to go along with his eight points.
They said it
“We didn’t want to be in a half-court game with them because it would have been very slow, so if we could step up a bit, while still moving the ball and taking good shots, he was going to be in. This is why i think committing to it was going to be important because a team like that once we get to 16, 18, 20 just their style of play it’s harder for them to realistically get back in the game. So it was important. We just kept pushing. Our activity was good, we forced a few turnovers, we missed a lot early. — Bobby Hurley, ASU Coach
“I’m happy we’ve found something that works for us. We’ve found a rhythm. It’s something to build on before entering the tournament, I feel like we’re peaking at the right time. .“ —Laurent Kimani
ASU closes the regular season with a 1 p.m. game Saturday against Stanford (15-14, 8-11), an 81-69 loss at Arizona Thursday night. It will be Seniors Day with the Sun Devils honoring their two seniors in Jackson and Lawrence.
When the teams played Jan. 22 at Stanford, the Cardinal prevailed 79-76, the game-breaking points on three free throws with just seconds to go.
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