ASU men's basketball stumped by a change of pace

The Sun Devils now hold a 1-3 record in conference play

Once riding a 12-game winning streak and a No. 3 ranking, conference play has speedily turned into a one-and-three skid for the ASU men’s basketball team. 

In a span of 13 days, the Sun Devils (13-3, 1-3 Pac-12) have fallen to No. 11 in the AP poll and another dip is on deck after the team’s Thursday night loss to the University of Oregon (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12). 

So what’s to blame, and where does ASU go now just a day away from its next game?

“I don’t know if we’re completely making each other better on offense right now,” said head coach Bobby Hurley following the team’s loss to Oregon. “We had some good examples. I saw some good ball movement in the first half and not so much in the second half, so we just need more guys back to playing well.”

The Sun Devils finished Thursday’s game with 13 assists. That’s two more than they had in their other two losses. 

All season long ASU’s key to victory has revolved around its fast break.

“Yeah, I mean it’s just different here. People scout you,” Hurley said. “They know if they run up and down with us that’s maybe not the best idea after you have the film that you have.”

Just prior to the beginning of Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils had assist outings of 18 and 22. 

In the team’s  victories over San Diego State University and the University of Kansas, ASU racked up a combined 35 assists. 

After the loss to Oregon, senior forward Kodi Justice said that teams are doing a better job of controlling the game. 

“I mean, teams are slowing the game down not letting us play at our speed anymore, so we have to figure out ways to get stops,” Justice said. 

By commanding the pace of the game, ASU’s opponents have forced the Sun Devils out of rhythm, but incorporating their speed in ball movement could prove to strike the right cord for ASU.

Faster and more precise passing ultimately allows the Sun Devils that extra second to find the hole in a zone defense – the defense that is seemingly giving them trouble.

When Hurley and the team produce higher quality ball movement, then the Sun Devils can get more efficient shots from their sharpshooters. 

With an emphasis on shot selection, the Sun Devils can get right back to business, because they have the shooters to do so in senior guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and others.

The Sun Devils’ next opportunity to get back on track is Saturday when they face Oregon State University (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12) at Wells Fargo Arena.  

Reach the reporter at or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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