ASU basketball must avoid ‘shooting themselves in the foot’ to salvage season

Feb 21, 2024, 9:45 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2024, 11:42 am

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils talks to Alonzo Gaffney #8 during the first...

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils talks to Alonzo Gaffney #8 during the first half of the Jerry Colangelo's 2023 Hall of Fame Series Phoenix game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Footprint Center on December 20, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Arizona State was thrashed by Arizona 105-60 on Saturday as five different Wildcats scored in the double digits to gang up on the Sun Devils.

ASU coach Bobby Hurley said the day after the game was just as bad as the game itself. The team watched film from the loss, and it gave them another chance to see the mistakes made and what caused the Sun Devils to lose by so much.

“I would say something that’s kind of plagued us this year and in these games have been have been stretches where we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Hurley said. “The overall message is that there’s got to be a response by all of us to do a better job to not allow the game to get out of hand.”

After watching the Sun Devils repeatedly do that, Hurley switched focus to their next game versus Washington on Thursday.

“In this game, I just want to see great attitude,” Hurley said. “I want to set effort, and that doesn’t mean that the ball needs to go through a basket or that you have to be perfect all the time out there on the floor. You want to see a team that plays with a lot of fire and desperation.”

The Huskies at least offer an easier test. They hold a 14-12 record with a 1-5 record versus Quad 1 teams. The Sun Devils lost to Washington in Seattle earlier in the season 82-67.

Washington hasn’t been able to replicate the success of Keion Brooks Jr., who leads the Pac-12 with 21.2 points per game while leading the Huskies in rebounding.

“They got a lot of pieces over there on that team,” ASU guard Adam Miller said. “The year hasn’t very well in their way. I think we have to do a good job of containing the ball and limiting them to one shot. And the same thing stopping them in transition, I feel like we could beat them.”

After the Washington game on Thursday, the Sun Devils take on No. 21 Washington State on Saturday.

The Cougars will be one of ASU’s tougher tests this season as they were ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2008 earlier in the week. They boast a 20-6 record and a seven-game win streak.

Washington State is led by freshman Myles Rice, who leads the team in points per game with 15.9. The team has four players who average more than 10 points per game, with senior Issac Jones posting 15.7 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds.

A bright spot for the Sun Devils in that Arizona loss that could prove to be an X-factor against the Washington schools is Miller, who continued to show his ability and prove his consistency on the offensive end of the floor. Miller scored 16 points. It was his third game in a row with exactly 16 points.

“I feel great,” Miller said. “I’ve been in the gym as much as possible. I think that’s kind of why I’ve seen an uptrend in my game. That’s my role. Come out here and try to score, defend, and be a leader. I’m trying to do that to the best of my ability to help us win. ”

There’s not much more time to turn this season around for the Sun Devils. They have five games left in conference play to find some sort of positive momentum before the Pac-12 Tournament.

“Do you want to be known as a team that had a winning season or losing season?” Hurley said. “Either is in play right now with five games left. So that’s a decision that we have to make as a group.”

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