ASU men’s hoops’ NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy after loss to Colorado

Feb 16, 2023, 9:43 PM | Updated: 10:16 pm
Arizona State's Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) reacts to missing a potential game tying three-pointer in...
Arizona State's Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) reacts to missing a potential game tying three-pointer in the closing seconds of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. Oregon won 75-70. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

TEMPE — It was a crucial blow to Arizona State men’s basketball’s NCAA Tournament hopes on Thursday as the Sun Devils lost to Colorado 67-59 at Desert Financial Arena.

“I think sometimes in basketball … you get beat, you get outplayed,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame. “I think that was the case. They were just a fraction better than us tonight.”

Already on the outside looking in for the tournament, Arizona State (18-9, 9-7 Pac-12) could not afford a loss to a team with as poor of a record as Colorado (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12). At the start of the game, it looked like the Sun Devils would avoid the loss as they started out on fire.

At the first media timeout with 15:31 left in the first half, ASU led 11-8 behind 3-for-5 three-point shooting to start the game. At the second media timeout with 10:58 left in the half, the Sun Devils had already reached 20 points, leading 20-14.

Sun Devils guard DJ Horne was a huge part of the team’s early success. The junior scored nine points, all of which came on threes, in the first 6:53 of the game.

Despite the strong start, ASU was unable to pull away from the Buffaloes as the first half went on. The Sun Devils were only able to extend their lead to eight points in the half, allowing Colorado to hang around. They allowed the Buffaloes to go on a 7-0 run to close the half and tie the game going into the break.

In the second half, the two teams battled back and forth for the first portion of the half. However, the Sun Devils scored just three points over the final 5:56 of the game to fall by eight points.

Shot selection hurt ASU again on Thursday. Poor shots, a lack of ball movement and at times a lack of aggressiveness seemed to affect the Sun Devils negatively down the stretch.

“I personally feel like we could have definitely taken better shots but I’m not the coach and I’m also not the guard,” Arizona State 7-foot center Warren Washington said in his first game back from a two-game hiatus due to COVID-19. “So I don’t see it from their perspective. So I can’t really speak for them.”

As for the team’s tournament hopes, Hurley said he is just thinking about the next game.

“We have to try and figure out a win Saturday,” Hurley said. “That’s all I’m thinking about right now. It’s a tough loss. Guys are demoralized to a degree in there. You played a winning game. You just didn’t have enough to finish it.”

Washington was also asked about how a loss like this one might affect the team’s NCAA Tournament chances.

“I can’t think about that right now,” Washington said. “We got to move on to the next one. We got a lot of good games coming down on the road so I feel like our season and our hopes are always going to be there.”

While it sounds Cliché, each game for ASU is a must-win from here on out if the team has any chance at making the big dance.

Arizona State will probably have to beat a solid Utah team on Saturday at home, No. 8 Arizona on the road next Saturday, No. 4 UCLA on the road on March 3 and a solid USC team at the Trojans’ building on March 5 to even think about playing in the nation’s top postseason tournament.

If the Sun Devils are unable to pull off a miraculous run down the stretch, they will have to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament. ASU has yet to play Utah but lost to UCLA, USC and Arizona earlier this season at Desert Financial Arena.

The game with the Utes is senior day in Tempe. All the action can be heard with pregame coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. on 98.7, Arizona Sports app and

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