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ASU men’s basketball's new attitude in practice translating to in-game success

After suffering a six-game losing streak, the Sun Devils have increased their intensity in practices, which has led to a two-game winning streak

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The ASU men’s basketball team comes together for a timeout during ASU’s loss to UA at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Thursday, January 22, 2021. ASU lost 84-82.


After ASU men’s basketball lost six straight games, culminating in consecutive losses to rival UA, the team was undeniably upset with its play. 

Sophomore forward Jalen Graham was visibly frustrated after ASU's 80-67 loss to UA and criticized the team's competitiveness in practice.

“I think that we’re just undisciplined. We don’t play as hard together, and that affects us majorly,” Graham said on Jan. 25 in a postgame press conference. “We need to come into practice and lock in and play as a team. We don’t do that.”

However, something changed after the six-game slide, and ASU picked up consecutive wins over Cal and Stanford. After the team’s 79-75 victory over Stanford, senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. said teammates stressing to "push each other" in practice was key for the team's recent performance.

Graham also noticed the recent difference in practices and said on Wednesday the losses suffered by the team served as a "wake-up call." He said the changes in recent practices resulted in better in-game defensive effort, and the numbers back him up. 

The Sun Devils committed a season-high 29 personal fouls and recorded just three steals in their second game versus the Wildcats. ASU rebounded against Cal, committing just 16 personal fouls while recording eight steals. 

Immediately following its performance versus Cal, ASU tied its season-high in steals in a single game with 12 versus Stanford.

The 68 points ASU allowed Cal to score were the least number of points given up in a single game by the team this season since it held Cal to 62 points in December.

Although Graham previously said one-on-one and four-on-four drills weren't translating to success in games, head coach Bobby Hurley said on Wednesday he did not change any of the drills he incorporates into practice, adding he is a “creature of habit” as a coach.

“The plan we have is pretty strong, it’s just more of a matter of execution,” Hurley said. 

Hurley said his team’s first practice after the Stanford win was "outstanding because of the confidence we generated" from that victory and its previous win against Cal.

Even though the Sun Devils have not played a game since Jan. 30 after having their last three games postponed, Hurley believes his team is ready to pick up right where they left off on Thursday at 7 p.m. MST versus Oregon.

“I don’t think we missed a beat in terms of being excited to be out on the floor and being enthusiastic about the opportunity to play a really good team on Thursday night,” Hurley said.


Reach the reporter at cfahrend@asu.edu and follow @chris_drop_ on Twitter.

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