Though the 16-8 ASU men's basketball team isn't in its desired position, it's a significant improvement from last season when it finished 14-17 and with a 10-10 record in Pac-12 play. With just seven games of regular season play remaining, the Sun Devils will take on Stanford Thursday, which has won five of its last six games.
Still, ASU is 6-7 in its last 13 games and is trying to recover its once-promising season.
Starting Jan. 5, ASU put together four straight wins after two disappointing losses, then followed with a four-game losing streak. On Thursday, ASU ended the four-game losing streak with a 68-57 win against Oregon State. However, as the Sun Devils couldn't keep their lead in the second half, ASU lost 70-75 to Oregon Saturday.
Despite multiple double-digit scorers, ASU's offense ranks 176th in scoring offense and 283rd in effective field goal percentage.
READ MORE: ASU men's basketball defeats Oregon State 68-57 behind strong defensive second half
ASU's leading scorers are fifth-year guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. who averages 13.8 points, junior guard DJ Horne who averages 11.2 points and sophomore guard Frankie Collins who averages 11.1 points.
Cambridge Jr. caught fire at a much-needed time amid ASU's losing streak and Horne's one-game suspension. In the past eight games, Cambridge Jr. has averaged about 17.4 points, which played an essential role in ASU snapping its four-game losing streak.
After the Oregan State game, Cambridge Jr. discussed "growing pains" and described the losing streak as a whirlwind.
"We did get closer as a team, just holding each other accountable and being able to take constructive criticism from each other," he said.
Oregon, Feb. 4
ASU stormed Oregon early, holding an 8-2 lead, and led for most of the first half. Still, once Oregon gained momentum and took the lead in the second half, its hot shooting never allowed ASU to regain the lead.
A promising sign for ASU was the re-emergence of Horne. Horne struggled offensively before his suspension but hit clutch shots against Oregon and finished with 18 points.
ASU then went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 58-54 and eventually cut Oregon's lead to one with about a minute remaining. But ASU went cold, missing its last four shots, and Cambridge Jr. missed a corner three with 7.6 seconds remaining on ASU's final possession.
"The first eight minutes of the second half cost us. They built a lead, and we couldn't overcome it even though guys were out there fighting like heck and trying to make plays," said head coach Bobby Hurley after the 75-70 loss.
Horne led ASU in the first half with nine points, and ASU defended well, holding the Ducks to 39% shooting from the field and 25% from the three. Oregon eventually got going and went on a 4-0 run with about 10 minutes left to tie the game.
ASU received a scoring boost from redshirt senior guard Luther Muhammad who scored eight points in the first half and finished with 12.
Muhammad hit two first-half three-pointers, including one where he received a technical foul for falling, resulting in Oregon senior guard Will Richardson knocking down a free throw to shorten ASU's lead 21-18. Richardson scored 14 points; however, ASU forced him to turn the ball over six times. ASU's 17 forced turnovers were Oregon's second most of the season.
ASU ended the half with solid defense but allowed Oregon to gain momentum after junior guard Keeshawn Barthelemy knocked down a pull-up three-pointer to end the half at 27-30.
Barthelemy opened the second half with another three-pointer, and the floodgates opened. Collins did what he could to stop the bleeding after Oregon took the lead in the second half with a productive 13-point second-half performance adding three assists. But Oregon had a response for everything ASU threw at them. Oregon won 75-70.
Next, the Sun Devils will travel to take on Stanford in a must-win away game Thursday at 8 p.m. MST.
Edited by Kathryn Field, Jasmine Kabiri and Piper Hansen.
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