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ASU men's basketball surrenders 16 threes in 96-56 loss to Saint Mary's

The Gaels' early three-point barrage quickly doomed the Sun Devils on Wednesday night in Phoenix

20191218 men's basketball vs Saint Mary's 0138

ASU now-senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. (11) looks to pass under pressure from Saint Mary's redshirt junior guard Tommy Kuhse (12), senior guard Jordan Ford (3) and sophomore forward/center Matthias Tass (11) in the second half on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The Gaels defeated the Sun Devils 96-56.

In what was a tremendous opportunity to earn yet another impressive out-of-conference win, a Bobby Hurley staple during his tenure in Tempe, the ASU men's basketball team delivered its worst performance of the season.

The Saint Mary's Gaels, the No. 1 three-point shooting team (45.7%) in the country, blew out the Sun Devils 96-56 Wednesday night in the second game of the 2019 Basketball Hall of Fame Showcase at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

"We shot too quick early in the game without moving the ball at all," Hurley said. "We can't really afford to do that. They were prepared to play and made a statement about their team. I had a ton of respect for them coming into the game. They were more impressive in person."

ASU's lackluster showing was evident on both sides of the ball, as Saint Mary's senior guard Jordan Ford (West Coast Conference-leading 20.4 PPG) scored 19 of the Gaels' first 21 points and began the game 8-8 from the field, including 5-5 from three-point range. Offensively, ASU shot 8-36 (22.2%) in the first half and found itself trailing by 32 points at the break.

"When I play well, other guys follow," Ford said. "I think it's my job to be aggressive and take it to them. That's what we saw tonight. Everybody was really confident."

With the game seemingly already out of reach early, the Sun Devils' lone bright spot came from junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr., who finished with 43 of ASU's 56 points on 18-29 shooting. No other Sun Devil attempted more than nine field goals.

Despite the blowout, Verge Jr. clearly remained aggressive and continually attacked the basket.

"He was just one of few guys that had a rhythm on offense and once he going, we knew we had to keep riding him and give him the ball just about every time down the court," Hurley said. "That was frustrating that little of guys playing well and you have to resort to that tactic. He's been practicing well and he's getting better."

Ford totaled 34 points on 17 shots and SMC redshirt junior forward Malik Fitts added 20 points and eight rebounds.

Saint Mary's also capitalized on 15 ASU turnovers for 26 points. 

This season, the Sun Devils have held their opponents to 26.5% from three-point range, good for best in the Pac-12 and 12th nationally. On Wednesday, the Gaels hit 16-26 (62%) from long distance.

"Once (Ford) got going early, everything else started opening up," Hurley said.

A presumed high-octane guard scoring matchup between Ford and ASU junior guard Remy Martin (20.3 PPG) proved to be completely one-sided as the Sun Devils' leading scorer did not register a point on seven field goal attempts in 28 minutes.

Hurley thought Martin was "pressing" early in the game, which led to the out of character performance. However, the ASU head coach placed the blame of the ugly loss on himself.

"I gotta do a better job, I gotta have the team ready to play," he said. "If you lose this decisively, then it's on me to make sure we're practicing better and preparing better." 

Another formidable out-of-conference opponent awaits the Sun Devils as the 9-2 Creighton Bluejays will visit Tempe on Saturday Dec. 21. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. MST. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @Kaleb_Mart on Twitter.

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