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Poor offensive showing hinders Sun Devils once again

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State Sun Devils entered Saturday’s matchup needing a bounce-back game in the biggest way following a dreadful loss to Saint Mary’s.

Standing in their way, however, was a 9-2 Creighton Bluejays team riding a five-game winning streak.

The Sun Devils (8-4) went toe-to-toe with the Bluejays (10-2) for most of Saturday’s contest, but couldn’t put together a full 40 minutes, falling 67-60. The outcome marks the first home loss of the season for ASU (5-1).

“We didn’t play good offense again and it’s been a common theme here the last couple [of games],” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game. “We defended better … I didn’t have a lot of complaints. They’re a really good shooting team and we held them under their averages from 3 and did what we needed to do defensively to have a chance to win.

“But when you go right down the line and you just look at the numbers, they’re not great.”

Shooting a combined 35.4% from the field, 26.9% from beyond the arc, the Sun Devils turned in yet another brutal offensive showing. Especially in the second half, as the team converted just nine of the 31 shots taken (29%). After hanging right there with the offensive-minded Bluejays for the first half — taking a 32-30 lead into halftime — the Sun Devils slowly watched their two-point advantage dwindle into a Creighton lead.

After a career-best 43 points in Wednesday’s loss to Saint Mary’s, junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. looked to be the hothand early on. Pacing all Sun Devils with 14 points in the first half, the guard provided a strong second punch to the team’s offense for the first 20 minutes.

Then came the second half. Verge ran into a road block, missing all eight of his attempts to finish with 19 points on 6-of-23 shooting.

“I got to my spots, got to where I wanted to get to, I just couldn’t hit any shots. It happens,” Verge said. “Just got to my spots, got to the areas I wanted to, it just wasn’t falling.”

On the other side of the coin, Creighton junior guard Mitch Ballock caught fire, hitting three of his four 3-point tries, for 11 points in the second half. Sophomore forward Christian Bishop chipped in 12 points and nine rebounds.

“I don’t think he really read what they were doing well in this game,” Hurley said of Verge. “Overall, [Creighton defenders] were really dropping off him because they knew or I’m sure they watched the film of him getting all the shots in the lane that he scored. He didn’t have the confidence that he needed to pull the trigger a few times when I thought he was wide open.”

Adding to the shooting woes was redshirt-senior Rob Edwards, who connected on one of his five shots for two points, 0-for-3 from deep. Edwards, viewed as one of the team’s sharpshooters before the season has found himself in a shooting slump, recording just two made treys on 17 attempts.

“He had one that was wide open in the first half from 3 and you gotta try and make those type of shots so that you can dig yourself out of the hole that you’re in right now,” Hurley said of the guard. “But he wasn’t able to in the first half, and it was good to see him get the dunk at the end but it’s kind of a little too late.”

The lone bright spot of ASU’s offense continues to be junior forward Romello White.

Cemented as the team’s anchor, White’s adding consistency to a squad in need of solid stability during its recent skid. Dropping 18 points and snagging 12 rebounds, the big man was the main contributor throughout the evening. The junior has now hit double-digit marks in points and boards in five of the last six games.

“I thought the only positives on offense for us was Romello’s contribution and what [Taeshon Cherry] was able to do at times out there,” Hurley said.

The Sun Devils will look to put an end to their two-game skid when the team takes on the Texas Southern Tigers. The matchup marks the final nonconference opponent of the regular season before Pac-12 kicks off.

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