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ASU’s buzzer-beater loss to Arizona latest blow in Sun Devils’ season

Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr. (11) drives past Arizona guard Terrell Brown Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State Sun Devils entered Thursday’s matchup with the Arizona Wildcats desperately looking to turn the tide of their season.

And just as it seemed like they figured out how to get over the hump, the sky came crashing down once again in an 84-82 heartbreaking loss to the Wildcats.

It’s yet another negative for a team that was positioned in the offseason to make a run at the top of the Pac-12 this year.

“Needless to say it’s been a very disappointing year in terms of these type of games,” Bobby Hurley said postgame via Zoom. “It’s been a very tough year not getting the result you’re hoping for. I thought we deserved to win the basketball game tonight.”

The Sun Devils did not get off on the right foot to open up the game Thursday night, committing 12 turnovers in the first half alone and clearly trying to force things that weren’t there.

But just when it looked as though Arizona was about to run away, taking an 11-point lead at one point, ASU woke up and locked in.

A Jalen Graham jumper with 7:11 left in the half kicked off a 9-0 run for the Sun Devils. It was followed by a 3-pointer from freshman forward Marcus Bagley and a Holland Woods fast-break finish. Two made free throws by Alonzo Verge and just like that it was a two-point affair.

The second half painted a different picture, with both teams trading blows throughout. ASU would get on a run, Arizona would answer with one of their own. The back-and-forth continued until the last two possessions of the game.

With the final seconds dwindling off the clock, senior guard Remy Martin was given the rock in what would be the team’s last look of the night.

Driving into the lane, the guard went up and was met by an Arizona defender Azuolas Tubelis in the paint. The ball didn’t go in, and due to Martin’s quickness on the play, provided just enough time for the Wildcats to push the ball down the court for the buzzer-beating victory.

Hurley believed Martin was fouled on the attempt, leading to a visibly frustrated head coach postgame.

“I thought that Remy Martin — after watching it live and then watching it on film again after — clearly was fouled by a player in the restricted area. That player did not leave his feet, he was contacted, his arms did not go straight up and the guy should have been whistled a foul and put on the free-throw line,” Hurley said.

“So you’re talking about a guy that is as decorated a player in this conference as it’s seen that goes to the hoop in a critical moment in the game and they swallow their whistles. And that kid goes, gets knocked on his (expletive) and obviously they went down and scored and the rest is history tonight.”

The loss moves the Sun Devils to 4-7 (1-4) on the year, with the team’s previous two losses coming by a combined three points.

The losses, paired with the team’s coronavirus-impacted season, adds yet another layer to the onion of a season ASU is experiencing.

And if there’s one silver lining, it’s the way the Sun Devils fought back and made a game out of it.

“It’s been a tough go. we’ve had these games were we just haven’t close. We’ve been shorthanded, we haven’t had players,” Hurley said. “This is more of what my vision was for our team this year, having the players that we had on the floor tonight and doing some of the things we were able to do. And we did that after having a stretch of not playing great offense in the first half.”

ASU will have a quick turnaround before facing off against Arizona (11-3; 5-3) in Game 2 of the back-to-back Territorial Cup series this season.

You can catch all the action live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.


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