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Senior guards push ASU men's basketball over UCLA

The Sun Devils have scored 80 or more points in their last three games


ASU senior guard Tra Holder (0) loses control of the ball during the second half of the Sun Devils' 88-79 victory over the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona.

ASU men’s basketball needed every second the clock had to spare for a win over USC on Thursday. The Sun Devils were in no such situation in their convincing 88-79 victory over the UCLA Bruins on Saturday night. 

Throughout conference play, ASU’s critics have come far and wide calling for the offense to take hold of a game like the team did early on. 

Senior guards Kodi Justice, Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II took that call against the Bruins. 

The trio was responsible for 62 of the Sun Devils’ 88 points. 

“It started off with Kodi,” Holder said. “He did a great job in the beginning. He was on fire.”  

That fire was bright by halftime as Justice was shooting 66 percent from both the field and behind the arc.

“We’re always working -- that’s why this team is doing so well,” Justice said. “When the lights were off, we’re working.”

ASU’s dominance over UCLA gives head coach Bobby Hurley his first Pac-12 weekend series sweep to date. Despite a decent lead, Hurley was not ready to let this one slip away.

With a little over 13 minutes remaining in the game, the Sun Devils held a 49-41 lead. Freshman guard Remy Martin rifled a through ball to junior forward De’Quon Lake, who wasted no time to slam it home. The dunk pushed ASU’s lead to 10. 

Right on cue, Wells Fargo Arena erupted. However, the Sun Devils wanted more, and Hurley was the one to throw his hands up in an effort to get the crowd to be louder. 

“Outside of the first six minutes where they had 17 (points), we really kind of locked down on defense better and generated more stops,” Hurley said. “That led to us playing better, more efficient on offense.”

ASU’s scoring may be the talk on Mill Ave., but the Sun Devils’ constricting defensive presence on UCLA junior guard Aaron Holiday is a close second.

Holiday, who ranks fifth in Pac-12 scoring (19.1 points per game), was held to three points at halftime. 

“We just wanted to be present in ball screens … and try and limit his dribble penetration,” Hurley said.

Although it is Holder who has familiarity with Holiday, going back to their high school match ups, Evans got the call to take on the Bruins’ star. 

Seemingly every time Holiday had the ball and called for a screen, Evans received help.

Putting UCLA’s top scorer in a bind gave ASU the firepower to eventually storm off to their nine-point victory. Although Holiday got going at the end (20 points), it was too little too late for the Bruins.

The Sun Devils, winners of their last three, have five days until the highly anticipated Territorial Cup against the No. 13 UA Wildcats. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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