ASU’s rust shows as Sun Devils’ offense can’t keep up with Colorado
TEMPE — The Arizona State Sun Devils took the hardwood for the first time since Jan. 2 on Saturday night against the Colorado Buffaloes.
After a power outage canceled one game and COVID-19 postponed four more, ASU was also playing at Desert Financial Arena for the first time since Dec. 19.
That lack of continuity — or rust — for the Sun Devils was on full display in a 75-57 loss, as Arizona State’s offense wasn’t able to keep up with Colorado’s shooting on the night.
Sporting 1961-62 Reverse Retro uniforms on the same night former Sun Devil Ike Diogu’s jersey was being hung in the rafters, ASU shot an abysmal 34% from the field (20 of 59) and an even worse 24% from three (5-for-21).
“I would say not totally unexpected the performance considering everything,” head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame.
“[The guys] were juiced about playing because it’s been so long,” he added. “But we just didn’t have a lot of gas in the tank in the second half and they hit some shots and got some confidence and then we couldn’t cut into the lead again.”
Arizona State did, however, go 12-for-15 from the free throw line (80%).
Junior forward Jalen Graham led the Sun Devils with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting in addition to going 6-for-7 (85.7%) from the charity stripe despite coming into the game as questionable due to illness.
“Jalen Graham I thought was a positive for us, more particularly in the first half with his production on offense,” Hurley said. “We need signs of guys who can score the ball, so that was good to see from him off of one day’s practice.”
“He was sick for days,” Hurley added. “We were talking with him, I did a Zoom call with him when I got back in the office.
“We did a lot of testing with him and everything came back OK. He felt better or well enough yesterday to practice and he looked pretty good at practice. When I did our Zoom it was pre-practice so I didn’t know that he was even going to go at that point.”
Colorado on the other hand — who played three games since Jan. 9 coming into Saturday night’s contest — had no problem tickling the twine, as the Buffaloes were 25-of-58 from the floor (43%) and 10-for-25 from beyond the arc (40%).
Arizona State didn’t do itself any favors in the first half, either.
The Sun Devils started out the opening 5:30 minutes of the game shooting 1-for-11 from the field, including an abysmal 1-for-7 from three. However, ASU was able to use 12-3 run and an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 37-34 at halftime.
A large part of that had to do with ASU’s bench, which had 21 of the team’s 34 points in the first half. The Sun Devils were also able to take advantage of their trips to the free throw line, going 9-for-11 compared to Colorado’s 5-for-10 mark at the charity stripe in the opening frame.
But unfortunately for Arizona State, the bench was only able to muster seven points in the second half to finish with 28 on the night.
And to make matters worse, Colorado came out on fire from deep in the second half, going 5-for-7 from beyond the arc in the opening seven minutes of the second frame to grab a 56-45 lead.
The Buffaloes — who never trailed on Saturday night — didn’t look back from that moment on and cruised to an easy 18-victory to improve Colorado’s record to 12-4 (4-2 in Pac-12), while ASU falls to 5-9 on the season (1-3 Pac-12).
Colorado also won the total rebounding battle 46-31, as well as the offensive glass 10-5.
“The second half we got really spread out I thought,” Hurley said. “We were trying to be more efficient, staying in gaps in the first half and we got spread out and the guards were driving and throwing the ball to wide-open shooters.
“They gained some confidence with that and then as the half progressed, we just didn’t have another response and we were giving up (offensive) boards spread out. So it got progressively worse and we started searching.”
The former Arizona State Sun Devil had his jersey lifted atop the rafters among other ASU basketball legends at halftime.
a new legend in the rafters.
congratulations, Ike 5️⃣💛 pic.twitter.com/oOPFP0QGsn
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) January 16, 2022
“I’m extremely happy for Ike and his family to go through that and to have this great honor so it was awesome to honor him,” Hurley said. “He was such a great player here and great supporter of our program.”
Arizona State hosts Utah on Monday at 2 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM or 98.7 FM HD-2.