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ASU back at work to find better cohesiveness ahead of Cal game

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The blows continue to come for the Arizona State men’s basketball team.

After squandering a prime opportunity to erase a four-game losing streak in Game 1 against the Arizona Wildcats, the Sun Devils were knocked around by the in-state rival in Round 2 on Monday night.

The back-to-back losses bring ASU’s record to 4-8 (1-5 Pac-12), having now been on the wrong side of seven of its last eight matchups.

So if there’s a designated low point of the season for the Sun Devils, it’s this most recent stretch.

With the California Golden Bears (7-10; 2-8 Pac-12) coming to town Thursday, it’s back to the drawing board yet again for head coach Bobby Hurley and his coaching staff.

The rode to redemption starts with getting his players working together like a disciplined, cohesive unit.

“Certainly we have a lot of competitors in our locker room, we just have to do it more collectively,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday. “I’d be concerned about how together we are as a group. I think Arizona is certainly the more connected team, they rode the momentum they generated at the end of our first matchup where, again, we weren’t successful in a game that we had a five-point lead with under two minutes.

“Certainly that momentum benefitted Arizona and its players. We were a little sluggish to start the (second) game. I don’t know if we still were feeling the effects of the way we lost, but it’s not acceptable. It’s on me to make sure my team is prepared to come out and play right at the opening tip.”

The Sun Devils haven’t taken a lead into halftime since Jan. 7 in an overtime loss to UCLA. In three of the past four games since, ASU has been outscored 111-83 in the first half. That includes Arizona’s 40-18 halftime lead on Monday.

An area of weakness that could remedy the slow starts is improving the team’s communication, something Hurley has pinpointed this week leading into Thursday’s matchup.

“I have to do a better job of getting the group to compete and do it together, collectively,” Hurley said. “We have not been a connected team as I’ve had in the past, especially in the past three seasons. We need to try to be bringing it all together better. I think there needs to be better communication out on the floor. We’re not getting that right now.”

As it stands Wednesday, the Sun Devils are at the back of the conference standings at 1-5. But not far ahead of them sits the Golden Bears at 2-8 and losers of their last two. If Hurley and Co. want to salvage the rest of the season, it starts with a victory over a beatable Pac-12 team.

All it takes sometimes is one win to jolt things back where they need to be.

“We’re just going to stay at work. Unfortunately, we can see everyone in the standings right now so just gonna try and take advantage of every opportunity we can,” Hurley said.


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