Arizona State scores record-low 29 points in loss to Washington State

Dec 1, 2021, 8:16 PM

TEMPE — After three straight losses in the Bahamas to good competition in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Arizona State Sun Devils began conference play on Wednesday.

They hosted a team that was projected to finish with ASU around the mid-to-low tier of the Pac-12, and Vegas agreed that Washington State was close, as it came to Tempe as only two-point favorites despite starting 5-1 to the Sun Devils’ 2-5.

The on-court product did not reflect that in one of the most abnormal college basketball games you’ll see, a 51-29 final.

The 29 points were the lowest for ASU in over 70 years, dating back to the 1945-46 season, per That obviously makes it a record for the shot clock era, since they were implemented in NCAA basketball nearly 40 years after that.

Head coach Bobby Hurley described the offensive performance as “epically bad” while giving credit to the Cougars for their defense as well.

“Just stunned really by how bad the game was,” Hurley said.

The first half must have been strange for anyone who has never seen a basketball game before.

It was an 18-10 scoreline. Of basketball. Not football.

Arizona State shot 4-of-24 from the field, 0-of-6 at the foul line and had nine turnovers to two assists.

“That’s dreadful. Really dreadful,” Hurley said of 10 points in the first half.

Improbably, the Sun Devils weren’t ruined by this. Because after Washington State went ahead 10-0 with 17:25 to go, it missed 15 consecutive shots with an 0-for-4 effort at the foul line and six turnovers across 11:24 of game time.

Following D.J. Horne’s three-pointer on the next possession for ASU, Arizona State went on a 2-0 run across 11:08 and cut the seven-point deficit to five.

“It’s a lonely feeling. It’s a sad feeling. The play sheet got a lot of work today,” Hurley said of an eight-minute stretch without points for either side.

The two teams at halftime combined for 11 missed free throws and 18 turnovers, a number that adds up to 29, which is more than their combined point total (28).

Arguably the crowd’s loudest moment of the game was booing at the end of the first half, and I’m not sure if it was a home crowd voicing its displeasure with the team’s effort of the game itself.

Hurley had no complaints about the boos and questioned how ASU was still in the game at halftime, saying “we can play that bad and still be down eight?”

Maybe some were expecting a halftime response from either team, but there was just something in the air at Desert Financial Arena on Wednesday.

The Cougars finally grabbed the first momentum shift of the game, a 6-0 spurt across 90 seconds a few minutes into the second half, aka the way runs in basketball normally look.

That put Washington State up 16 and Arizona State didn’t have much of a chance beyond that.

The Sun Devils have gone another year without a real floor general, which leaves their offense with a certain level of aimlessness and a lot of desperate shots late in the shot clock. If they aren’t hitting 3s, it’s difficult to see how they find a rhythm. So, with how disjointed the group was already with the way the game was going, it was pretty much done once the Cougars extended the lead midway through the second half.

“It just felt like a circus out there,” Hurley said. “It just felt like we were doing bizarre things even as the game started going. I’m sure confidence and self-doubt comes into play for each guy that’s doing something negative. It just kind of continues to demoralize the whole group.”

As far as the rest of it goes, Washington State was the team to sort of stabilize amongst the two, but it was not as if everything suddenly clicked. The Cougars did enough, though, to outscore ASU 33-19 in the second half.

The Sun Devils finished with 12 field goals and failed to convert on their other 45 attempts, good for a shooting percentage of 21.1%, and had more turnovers (15) than field goals (12). They were 3-for-26 from deep. Only two ASU players scored more than three points: senior forward Kimani Lawrence (six points) and sophomore guard D.J. Horne (12).

Washington State was still fairly terrible in its own right, shooting 30.5% on the night.

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