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Sun Devils no-show vs. St. Mary’s, lose in concerning fashion by 40

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 18: Arizona State Sun Devils guard Alonzo Verge Jr. (11) goes up for a shot during the college basketball game between the Saint Mary's College Gaels and the Arizona State Sun Devils on December 18, 2019 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Boy, if you know where to start setting off the alarm bells for Arizona State, time to get ’em ringing.

The Sun Devils were humiliated in Phoenix in the Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase against St. Mary’s, getting run out of the gym within 10 minutes and producing one of the most unique and terrible stat lines you’ll ever see in a 96-56 loss — a game they were favored to win by a point.

“Not many bright spots,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “I gotta do a better job. I gotta have my team ready to play. That’s the bottom line. You lose this decisively, then it’s on me to make sure we’re practicing better, prepared better and ready to play.”

The Sun Devils couldn’t score or defend from the jump. They missed 17 of their first 20 shots of the game while the Gaels continued to get open and convert.

St. Mary’s got control of the game through senior Jordan Ford’s heatwave of 16 points in the first six minutes but made it a blowout in the first half as a team by making nine of their first 13 attempts from three-point range, all while getting good looks at the rim to boot.

ASU was down over 20 through 10 minutes and change, and instead of making up ground to give themselves a shot in the second half, they were down 32 at the half. There was no response after halftime.

The Sun Devils mindbogglingly had only three players score with four total assists. Three players with points! Four assists!

St. Mary’s shot 16-of-26 (61.5%) from three-point range and Ford finished with 34 points.

Offensive creation is a big issue for Arizona State.

Hurley’s Guard U team of the past was excellent at moving the ball as a team despite not having a pure point guard amongst Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice. Ditto for last season, but Zylan Cheatham and Luguentz Dort were terrific going downhill enough off the dribble to keep defenses on the backheel.

There’s not much of that here with this year’s rendition.

They average an awful 11.5 assists per game, shockingly with only three players posting more than an assist per game, and managed just the aforementioned four with 15 turnovers Wednesday.

The Sun Devils entered the night shooting a poor 30.5% from three-point range and were 3-for-22 against the Gaels, so they can’t bail themselves out there, either.

And this is a talented team.

Junior Remy Martin has grown the past two years into a reliable scoring option, Junior Romello White has made up for the loss of Cheatham on the glass and the likes of freshman Jaelen House (defense), junior Alonzo Verge Jr. (scoring) and senior Rob Edwards (shooting) offer supplementary skills.

But only three of those players scored, which we have to repeat again, because, wow!

Martin, who averaged 20 a game coming into the night, had zero on 0-for-7 shooting. Verge dropped a career-high 43, White added five and Taeshon Cherry posted eight. That’s it!

“This’ll go down in the record books too for a guy that scored 43 points yet had a minus-38 point differential, I mean it’s just like absurd to see that,” Hurley said. “But a lot of crazy things happened tonight.”

ASU has got to figure it out fast. It’s the first time this season that Hurley’s squad has been thoroughly handled.

Now at 8-3, they came back to make it close in China against Colorado before losing and then dropped a snoozefest squeaker totaling 93 points to then-No. 7 Virginia. While this was a group that didn’t have relatively high expectations this season, there were no warning signs suggesting anything like this loss was the type of team they could be.

At least they’ll have a chance to bounce back against good opposition. A solid Creighton team comes to Tempe on Saturday, and two weeks later is the kickoff of the Pac-12 schedule against No. 16 Arizona.

But the bottom line is it’s easily the worst defeat Hurley has had as the head coach of the program, and it’s going to be really, really tough to top. It’s especially surprising given the pedigree Hurley has built for the Sun Devils by playing a brand of energized and tough basketball. This looked absolutely nothing like those types of teams.

The timing is brutal near the end of the non-conference schedule when teams will usually iron out the rougher edges they had at the beginning of the season. The Sun Devils look like they haven’t even started yet.

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