Arizona State brushes off early haymaker to show fight before Arizona pulls away

Feb 28, 2024, 10:24 PM | Updated: Feb 29, 2024, 7:28 am

Frankie Collins and Kylan Boswell...

Kylan Boswell #4 of the Arizona Wildcats goes for a loose ball against Frankie Collins #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the first half at Desert Financial Arena on February 28, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Arizona State men’s basketball showed good fight in its rematch with No. 6 Arizona but fell 85-67 in Tempe on Wednesday.

At points in the first half it seemed like Arizona was on its way to another historic victory, but ASU weathered the early adversity to force a competitive game.

The Sun Devils used a run that started with a Frankie Collins 3-pointer before halftime followed by a 10-2 run that started the second half. ASU kept it close enough to be within eight points late, but it was a double-digit affair for the final four minutes.

“Certainly, I have to give credit where credit is due,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said after the game. “And in my opinion, (Arizona is) a very loaded team that has a chance to do a lot of damage the rest of the way.”

An 8-0 run by the Wildcats to take a 30-12 lead midway through the first half felt like the type of haymaker that the Sun Devils would struggle to come back from, but a 25-12 response over the next 10 minutes brought them back to within six with much of the second half still to play.

Playing competitively for stretches — but not entire games — has been a theme for this Arizona State squad this season.

“I’m sure (a full 40-minute effort is) there under the right conditions,” Hurley said. “But to be honest, Arizona is better than we are right now … We just never could put enough game pressure on them or get it to where we had a lead. We got close, but couldn’t get over the hump.”

Collins was the only Sun Devil having much success from deep to speak of, hitting 4-of-9 3s and finishing with 15 points that was only bested by Adam Miller’s 16, who hit one of ASU’s other three 3s.

However, Collins missed a layup in a clutch moment that would’ve responded after Arizona guard Caleb Love extended the Wildcats’ lead back to double digits. Just before that, Arizona’s Jaden Bradley poked loose a transition take from ASU wing Jamiya Neal and found the bucket on the other end, a swing that served as the first nail in the coffin.

The Wildcats finished the game on a 15-5 run over the final four minutes after the Sun Devils ran out of gas, hitting just one field goal in the final 4:50.

“I know we’re all disappointed we just lost to Arizona, no one more than me. But we might need a dose of reality,” Hurley said. “Arizona’s really good. We didn’t play anywhere near an A, A+ game which was totally necessary (if we wanted a chance to win), and there’s a lot of freaking bad teams in college basketball.

“Our players have competed through a lot of adversity this year, and they haven’t quit. So I’m happy with my team.”

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