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Sun Devils squander career night from Alonzo Verge Jr. in loss to SDSU

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right argues with a referee as Arizona State associated head coach Rashon Burno, second from left, and another referee listen during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State and UCLA are supposed to be the two best teams in the Pac-12. But that doesn’t seem to mean much to San Diego State.

Two weeks after crushing the Bruins by 15, the Mountain West-leading Aztecs came into Tempe and toppled the Sun Devils by an 80-68 final at Desert Financial Arena.

Alonzo Verge Jr. had a huge night for ASU, pouring in 25 points — fueled by a career-high seven three-pointers. But he didn’t get a lot of help. Only two other Sun Devils cracked double figures, with Josh Christopher chipping in 13 and Jalen Graham adding 10.

ASU dug itself a hole early in this one, falling behind 14-2 in the opening minutes. Kimani Lawrence hit a big three-pointer to get the Sun Devils rolling though, and they eventually took a 26-25 lead when Remy Martin hit a long three of his own from just inside the logo.

Incidentally, Lawrence and Martin are the only two Sun Devils currently on the roster who were on the team the last time ASU played a game on Dec. 10. That one took place in 2017, when the Devils went into Kansas and stunned the No. 2 Jayhawks 95-85.

Arizona State began that season 12-0. Bobby Hurley’s group isn’t riding that kind of wave to begin this year, though.

The Sun Devils went into halftime down 35-33 on Thursday night and eventually took the lead again early in the second half on a Verge three. Christopher hit a pair of free throws to put ASU up 43-41 with 16:22 left, but then the wheels came off in a hurry.

SDSU erupted for a 13-0 run — with eight of those points coming from Jordan Schakel — to go up 54-43. And the Aztecs never looked back. That run eventually extended to 23-6, and by then the deficit was just too big for the Sun Devils to overcome.

Marcus Bagley didn’t play in this one, but the fact that he’s dealing with a calf injury instead of an Achilles issue bodes well for him potentially returning soon. San Diego State shot 44.3% from the field, while ASU shot just 34.5%. And for the fourth straight game, the Sun Devils were outrebounded — by a mark of 44-37 tonight.

The loss drops Arizona State to 3-2 and marks the first time ASU has lost to San Diego State since 2000. What’s more, it’s the first time they’ve lost at home to the Aztecs since 1978.

It will also likely drop ASU out of the top 25. The Sun Devils came into this game at No. 23 — the only ranked team from the Pac-12. San Diego State came in at No. 24, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. The Aztecs are 5-0 now after finishing with a remarkable 30-2 record last season. They’ve also won 13 road games in a row — the longest streak in the country.

In other words, they’re a very good basketball team. As is Villanova, who was ranked No. 3 when it took down ASU on Thanksgiving. So it’s still hard to get a good read on this Sun Devils team. There’s no shame in losing to two strong opponents, but they’ll obviously need to fix that to get where they ultimately want to go.

Then again, no one left on the schedule is currently ranked. And that’s saying something because ASU still has 21 regular-season games to play. Up next, they’ll travel across Phoenix to face GCU on Sunday with tipoff set for 2 p.m.


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