The ASU men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking last-second 84-82 defeat to their rival the Arizona Wildcats late Thursday night.
After a 3-point make from freshman guard Josh Christopher put ASU up 5 with 2:22 left in the game, things were looking up for the Sun Devils. Unfortunately for head coach Bobby Hurley and his team, everything went downhill from there as his team did not score through the final buzzer.
On the Sun Devils' final possession, with just under 10 seconds left, senior ASU guard Remy Martin drove into the lane looking for contact but did not get a foul call. The Wildcats got the rebound and immediately took the ball up the court, where they got a last-second tip-in from freshman forward Azuolas Tubelis.
After the game, Hurley was adamant that Martin was fouled.
“I thought that Remy Martin, after watching it live and then watching it again on film after, clearly was fouled by a player in the restricted area,” Hurley said. “That player did not leave his feet, he was contacted, his arms did not go straight up and the guy should’ve been whistled a foul and (Martin) put on the free-throw line.”
Although Hurley and his team were not pleased with the end result, the Sun Devils played arguably their best team basketball of the year.
Senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr., sophomore forward Jalen Graham and freshman guards Christopher and Martin all scored in double digits, while senior guard Holland Woods and freshman forward Marcus Bagley each pitched in nine points apiece.
“I think collectively as a group we were all just balling,” Christopher said. “I think we had 12 turnovers in the first half so once we finally started cutting down on the turnovers we got into a rhythm.”
Although Hurley spent the majority of his postgame comments referencing the missed foul call, he did find some positives in the efforts of Graham and Christopher.
“(I’m) pleased with Jalen Graham, how he’s had very limited time on the court, limited practice, and to step up and play the game he played after being out for several weeks,” Hurley said. “I thought Josh Christopher did some really fantastic things on offense; big shots, beautiful drive to the basket in the second half.”
ASU only led once in the first half, but a noticeably more aggressive Martin helped get things rolling for the Sun Devils in the second. He consistently drew fouls in the lane and all seven of his free throws came in the second half.
The Wildcats also had four players score in double digits, but it was Akinjo who did the most damage. He finished with 24 points and made five threes for UA.
Even though the Sun Devils lost tonight they will look to get even with the Wildcats as they are set to finish the season series with UA on Monday, Jan. 25 in Tucson.
“It’s disappointing, but we play on Monday. We get revenge on Monday,” Christopher said. “We’ve just gotta put what’s in the past in the past, lock back in, watch film and play on Monday.”
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