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Fork Report: Poor shooting dooms Devils in 13-point loss to UCLA

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley gestures in the first half of a Legends Classic semifinal against North Carolina State in an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Perhaps more than anything else, it was a missed opportunity for the Sun Devils.

After delivering an impressive seven-point win over No. 23 USC on Friday night, Arizona State carried some decent momentum into Sunday’s tilt with UCLA. The victory over the Trojans marked the Devils’ second victory over a ranked opponent this season, and also gave them a modest two-game winning streak in conference play.

That streak ended in a flurry of missed shots, turnovers and failed free throws on Sunday though. When the dust settled, the Bruins had pulled away with a 78-65 Valentine’s Day victory over the Devils, in front of 6,710 at Wells Fargo Arena.

The game was fairly even through the first 20 minutes, with UCLA up 37-35 at the break. But ASU struggled to hit shots out of the gate to begin the second half. Bobby Hurley’s squad managed to hang around for awhile, however, trimming the deficit to 58-53 when Andre Spight buried a trio of free throws after being fouled in the act of attempting a three-pointer.

Unfortunately for the Devils, those made free throws proved to be an anomaly.

From that point on, the Bruins went on a 15-3 run, fueled in part by a string of four consecutive ASU misses from the charity stripe. Layups proved to be an issue too, as the Sun Devils had to deal with UCLA’s considerable size advantage up front. For the game, the Devils shot just 39.3 percent (22-of-56) from the field, and made just 47.4 percent (9-of-19) of their free throws. That was ultimately too much to overcome.

THE GOOD

-Obinna Oleka turned in a solid performance, pouring in 14 points while hauling in 13 rebounds for the double-double.

-Spight led all scorers with 21 points, going 5-for-7 from the field.

THE BAD

-ASU is 4-9 when trailing at the half this year.

-The Sun Devils failed in their bid for a school-record third consecutive home win over UCLA.

-After averaging 10.0 points in his previous eight games, Savon Goodman mustered just three points in this one.

STAT OF THE GAME

5: Tra Holder’s point total for the evening, on 2-for-12 shooting. ASU’s leading scorer was averaging 15.7 points per contest on the year, and had notched 17.5 points per game in his previous six outings. The five points marked his second-lowest output of the season (2 points, against UCSB on Nov. 29).

HE SAID IT

“It’s really frustrating because it felt like we could get our season back. We had this confidence going and… we’re looking… and we’re almost .500. We can move middle of the pack and we’re right there, and this could be a big game to set up for Wednesday. And it just felt like we kind of let ourselves down before a big game on Wednesday.” – Kodi Justice

NOTED

-Eric Jacobsen played in his 124th game as a Sun Devil, moving him into a tie with Eddie House (1996-2000) for seventh on the program’s all-time list.

UP NEXT

The Devils head to Tucson for their second meeting with Arizona on Wednesday. Tipoff is at 7, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 on Arizona Sports 98.7.

In the first meeting in Tempe back on January 3rd, ASU hung around for awhile, before ultimately seeing the game slip away in the second half. Bobby Hurley was ejected in the waning moments, as the Wildcats secured a 94-82 victory.

That was the Sun Devils’ first home loss to U of A since the 2012-13 season.
Arizona State’s next home game will be on Thursday, March 3rd, when Stanford comes to town.

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