ASU men’s basketball finished last in the yearly Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in The Bahamas after losing the seventh-place game of the tournament against Loyola University Chicago by a final score of 77-59 on Nov. 26.
In the first two games, they lost to Baylor 75-63 on Nov. 24, then lost to Syracuse 92-84 on Nov. 25. This was the first time ASU took part in the tournament in its ten-year history. The rest of the eight-team bracket included No. 6 Baylor (the winner of the tournament), No. 19 Auburn, No. 22 UConn, followed by Michigan State, Loyola, Syracuse and Virginia Commonwealth University.
ASU got off to a hot start against the defending NCAA tournament champions, jumping out to an early 18-12 lead thanks to an 8-point outburst from sophomore guard DJ Horne to open up the game, who ended up leading the game in scoring for a season-high 20 points and six threes on 7 for 10 shooting.
Baylor found its stride in the last nine minutes of the first half and never looked back, pulling ahead 31-23, just two minutes after the game was tied at 23. The Sun Devils never sniffed the lead again.
ASU found success moving the ball around and got quality shots to open up the game, but Baylor made an adjustment on defense to limit the ball movement and forced 11 ASU turnovers in the first half, taking a 45-31 lead at the half led by a junior guard Adam Flagler, who finished the half with 11 points.
Baylor had a much more balanced offensive attack, with five players scoring in double-digits and matching the 63 total points ASU finished with.
In the second half, ASU ended up trailing 64-42 with 09:57 left but was able to cut its deficit down to 11, where they trailed 72-61 with 2:42 remaining before running out of time.
Outside of Horne, ASU struggled offensively, shooting under 36% from the field. Graduate student guard Marreon Jackson finished the game 0 for 5 from the field, but put up 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
ASU came out with another solid start, keeping pace with Syracuse and holding a 17-16 lead with 13:29 in the first half. The game quickly went downhill from there.
After trailing 30-28 with seven minutes in the half, Syracuse went on a scorching 18-2 run to end the first half and went into the locker room with a commanding 48-30 lead. ASU allowed a season-high 48 points in the first half and tied its season-low of points scored with 30.
Throughout the game, Syracuse was led by senior guard Buddy Boeheim (8 for 11 from the free-throw line and 23 points) and junior center Jesse Edwards (9 for 11 from the field and 21 points). They also had all but two points scored by their starting lineup, with each starter playing 35 minutes or more.
ASU put together a good second half, outscoring Syracuse 54-44 and pulling within seven points with 02:47 left to play. An and-1 layup by Edwards with just over two minutes left put Syracuse up by 10 and put the game out of reach for ASU.
ASU put up a season-high 84 points and finished with six players in double-digit scoring, led by guard Jackson (17), guard Horne (14) and redshirt junior guard Luther Muhammad (12).
Unlike the first two games, ASU came out of the gate slow in its last game of the tournament, falling behind 27-16 with 8:31 in the first half. Although the team was able to cut the deficit to six (39-33) by halftime, the lights-out shooting from Loyola didn't give ASU a chance.
In the first half, Loyola shot 50% from the field (14 for 28) and 50% from three (6 for 12), and the lack of perimeter defense ASU has shown this year came into full effect.
Loyola had seven different players finish the first half with at least three points, and had 10 assists in the half compared to ASU's four assists.
The narrative of the second half was not much different from the first. ASU went 0 for 5 from three and shot under 37% from the field, resulting in 26 second-half points. The bright spot of this game for ASU was sophomore guard Jay Heath, who finished the game with 16 points, 5 for 8 from the field, and a perfect 5 for 5 from the free-throw line. Heath put up 13 of his 16 points in the second half and didn't miss a shot.
After leading by six at the half, Loyola was led by a 26-point effort from sophomore center Jacob Hutson and continued to shoot 50% from the field in the second half. ASU could not keep up and lost by 18.
ASU now sits at a 2-5 record and will head into its first conference game of the year against the Washington State Cougars (5-0) on Dec. 1 at Desert Financial Arena. On Dec. 5, ASU will play Oregon in its second conference game of the season.
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