ASU MBB beats Cal; doctors feel ‘pretty good’ Bagley injury not ‘worst-case’
Arizona State men’s basketball picked up a 70-62 win over Cal to start conference play on Thursday, but they had a fright when an emerging young player went down late with an apparent injury.
In the closing minutes of the second half, Marcus Bagley fell to the floor clutching his lower left leg. It was hard to tell if it was a non-contact play or if he stepped on someone’s shoe, but he had to be helped off the court by trainers.
After the game, head coach Bobby Hurley said the medical staff believes it is a left calf injury and that it is not “catastrophic.”
“They felt pretty good that it wasn’t the worst-case scenario, but we’re going to check everything and make sure when we get back to Arizona,” Hurley said.
That injury came in the final stretch as ASU secured its lead over Cal in what had started as a sloppy game.
Neither team broke the 10-point mark until after the media timeout following the 12-minute mark.
Over those first eight-plus minutes, the teams had combined for 35% shooting and 10 turnovers. Guard Remy Martin had five of ASU’s seven points. Cal led 9-7, but three of their points came on a near half-court shot on a broken possession, and another pair came from a heave in the corner near the end of the shot clock.
Hurley mentioned those fluky looks that Cal was able to hit to take an early lead.
“Our defense was really good even though our offense was not quite up to that level in the early stages,” he said. “We had some good looks we were not connecting … On the road and just in general, you gotta be able to defend if your offense is not playing at its best, and fortunately for us we were able to rely on our defense a little more tonight when our offense was not.”
After the sluggish start, both offenses came out stronger following the timeout. It took the Sun Devils 9:16 to break the 10-point mark; it only took them 3:13 to get their next 10 points.
Cal followed suit, and both teams led at seven different times in the game.
ASU went into the half with a 35-34 lead. Martin led with 12 points and Christopher had 10.
In the second half, Martin maintained pace of the offense with 10 more points while getting help from Holland Woods and Kimani Lawrence.
Woods hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second half, including one in which he went one-on-one against a larger defender, put on a crossover, sent his defender to the floor and drained the shot.
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Lawrence “stabilized” the team, Hurley said. He had six points, all in the second half. On one set of possessions, he drove in from the left side and dropped the tough layup. Pressing full-court on defense the next play, he helped force an errant pass that Martin stole and finished through contact for a layup to extend its five-point lead to 60-53 with 6:25 to go.
That defense was key in keeping Cal contained.
ASU forced 20 turnovers, which amounted to 19 points for the Sun Devils. The team drew three offensive fouls in the final 4:08 of the game, the final of which helped them cut the game clock in half.
With 2:11 on the clock, Cal had cut the lead to 66-62. Martin made a layup to extend the lead back to six with 1:54 to go. Then the Sun Devils drew a charge with 1:34 remaining in the game.
Taeshon Cherry missed a 3, but Woods grabbed an offensive rebound. ASU may have struggled on the glass Thursday – the Sun Devils had just three offensive rebounds while Cal had 11 — but the team got one when they need it.
ASU didn’t score on that possession, but the clock dwindled to 47 seconds before Cal regained possession. The Bears almost immediately got called for a travel.
“I think really, the story was our ability to turn them over 20 times,” Hurley said. “It’s something that we were able to do last year and I think it’s going to be a strength of our defense and we have to commit to guarding with that intensity.”
The Sun Devils are still a work-in-progress, which Hurley acknowledged after the game. It’s their first Pac-12 contest of the season. They’ve only played four games total. Missing Alonzo Verge Jr. and Caleb Christopher set them back, particularly when Josh Christopher, who finished with 14 points, picked up his fourth foul.
“I’m hoping that everyone sees our best performance as we keep getting closer to the spring. I would hope that we don’t play our best right now, that would be really depressing,” Hurley said. “I do think we gotta clean up the turnovers though, we just had too many in that game, had 14 turnovers. It’s not something that our team should have an issue with.”