Arizona State pulls away from Cal, picks up necessary home win
TEMPE, Ariz — With the Arizona State Sun Devils looking like a potential bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, a loss to 8-21 California could have been devastating.
At home with the more challenging Stanford coming up on Saturday, it felt like a must-win game for Arizona State in a couple of different ways.
While they didn’t start the game with that type of energy, Bobby Hurley’s team eventually overwhelmed the Golden Bears in an 84-53 win to snap a three-game losing streak.
“Good bounce-back from (the) Oregon swing,” Hurley said after the game.
There was no standout individual performance on either side.
Shannon Evans had 14 points for ASU, Tra Holder added 13 and Remy Martin had six assists to go along with his four points.
ASU (20-9, 8-9) had the rare instance of three frontcourt players scoring in double digits. Romello White had 13, Mickey Mitchell contributed 12 and De’Quon Lake posted 10.
“We just made the smart plays and the right plays,” Martin said after the game.
Cal (8-22, 2-15) had only three players score over five points, primarily led by Don Coleman’s 19 and Justice Sueing’s 13.
The Golden Bears were 0-for-18 from 3-point range and had six assists while turning the ball over 17 times.
Since 2010, per sports-reference.com, no team has failed to make a 3-point field goal against Arizona State in a single game.
The first 15 minutes of the first half showed the disparity in the two teams, and for different reasons than you’d assume.
At 11:32 to go in the opening half, ASU’s guards had only one point combined in a very lethargic start, but they still led 15-9 due to Cal’s incompetence.
The Golden Bears would find that much-needed boost, though, scoring 10 points in under four minutes to have it at a one-possession game, 20-19, with 8:18 to go in the first half.
A 19-10 run by the Sun Devils from that point on was enough to possess a double-digit lead of 39-29 heading into halftime.
So, would ASU then blow out Cal in the second half like they had done so many times earlier in the season? While it was not in that explosive of a manner, they made it a big margin and did so while playing with their signature style.
“To get back to playing freely, some of the plays in the second half were, I think, who we are and who we’ve been most of the year,” Hurley said.
Holder’s layup with under 13 minutes to go in the first half put ASU up 56-35, effectively “putting away” the game. From that point on, the smallest the deficit would be for Cal was 15 points and ASU scored 25 points in the final 10 minutes.
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