Hurley: ASU basketball refuses to give in during disappointing season

Feb 29, 2024, 5:00 PM

ASU head coaches Bobby Hurley watches warmups prior to a game earlier this season....

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches warm ups before the NCAAB game against the USC Trojans at Desert Financial Arena on January 20, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After Arizona State’s 87-65 loss to Arizona, the team had to look at themselves realistically.

They’re 14-15 on the season, 8-10 in conference play. They’ve lost to their rivals twice this season by a combined 63 points. There is no chance they will make this year’s NCCA Tournament unless the Sun Devils win the Pac-12 Tournament.

Despite these circumstances, head coach Bobby Hurley expressed that the team needs to look on the bright side.

“Although we’re not having a fantastic season, there are teams that are freaking brutal, right?” Hurley told reporters postgame. “They just stink, and they’ve given up, and they don’t compete.

“That’s not what our team is doing. I know we’re all disappointed. We just lost to Arizona, but we might need a dose of reality.”

Every time the Sun Devils get on a good stretch of play, something demoralizing happens.

Take their run through conference play this season, for example.

The Sun Devils won four straight games to begin Pac-12 play before losing by 15 to Washington and then falling to UCLA by two points after being up 13 at halftime.

They turned around and defeated Bronny James and USC by double digits a few days later.

After that emphatic win, Arizona State lost five straight games, followed by a pair of wins over Utah and Oregon State. Then the Sun Devils went to the McKale Center on Feb. 17 and lost by 45 points to rival Arizona.

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

In their next game versus Washington, the Sun Devils fell short in overtime after erasing a 25-point deficit in the second half. Last Saturday, they beat No. 21 Washington State, their first win over a ranked opponent since last February.

That win brings us back to the Sun Devils’ loss to the Wildcats. The lack of consistency has plagued ASU all season, and this trend showed its colors once again on Wednesday.

“There have been a lot of times this year where we just folded,” guard Adam Miller said postgame. “When you fight, you’re not going to win everything, but what matters to me personally is the way you lose. It’s the way you go about life and take your losses.”

The Sun Devils have two more games this season in Los Angeles against USC and UCLA. They still have a chance to finish the year over .500 in the regular season, and a run in the Pac-12 Tournament could always happen for ASU.

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

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