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ASU men's basketball mauled by the Cougars

The Sun Devils could not contain senior forward Josh Hawkinson in a home loss to Washington State

ASU junior guard Tra Holder (0) goes up for a layup during a men's basketball game against the Washington State Cougars in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. ASU lost 91-83. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)
ASU junior guard Tra Holder (0) goes up for a layup during a men's basketball game against the Washington State Cougars in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. ASU lost 91-83. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)

The last time the ASU men's basketball team lost at home to Washington State was in January 2009, when Klay Thompson and James Harden met for the first time on a basketball court. This time, a Cougar post player dug ASU's grave.

The Sun Devils (10-12, 3-6 Pac-12) let a three-point halftime lead disappear and lost 88-79 to Washington State behind a 31 point, 10 rebound performance from Cougar senior forward Josh Hawkinson.

Hawkinson, who averages a double-double this season, was a point of emphasis in the Sun Devil defensive gameplan, but coach Bobby Hurley said he did not expect Hawkinson's level of defensive play.

"I don't think we took advantage of him," Hurley said. "Good for him, man. He guarded. For a big guy, he moved fairly well. He stayed in front of our guards. When we had the chance to have a mismatch, there really was no mismatch."

ASU struggled with Washington State's matchup zone, but worked its way to a 40-37 lead at the break thanks to efficient shooting from junior guard Tra Holder and effective defense from the Sun Devil backcourt.

In addition, ASU attacked the basket which created opportunities at the free throw line — redshirt senior center Conor Clifford had three first-half fouls.

In the second half, Hawkinson was left as the primary interior defender as Clifford sat for the final 19:17 of the ballgame, giving ASU more space in the paint to operate.

Without Clifford on the floor, however, the game opened up offensively for the Cougars, as his absence allowed Washington State to run the floor more and create transition opportunities.

That transition offense led to Washington State making 10 of its first 12 shots from the field to open the second half, infuriating Hurley on the sideline.

"If you allow a team to play that way where everyone is playing well and making shots all over the court, then it's impossible to make a team not want to compete against you," Hurley said. "They're going to love to get back out of a timeout and get back out on the court."

But that wasn't the end of Hurley's wrath.

"As bad as the defense was today in transition, we just took some awful shots in the second half," Hurley said. "When you bomb shots when no one expects you to take them and you miss them, that's going to affect the mood of the team on defense."

Senior guard Torian Graham was the only Sun Devil to shoot over 50 percent in the second half. ASU shot just 39.4 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from the 3-point range in the final 20 minutes, letting the Cougars compile momentum as the game wore on.

Junior guard Shannon Evans, who finished with 15 points, said shot selection is an issue ASU needs to work out, as well as playing off each other more.

"I thought we had to play together more," Evans said. "Sometimes we got out of hand and we did things that we're not capable of doing or we shouldn't do."


Reach the reporter at mtonis@asu.edu or follow @Tonis_The_Tiger on Twitter.

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