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Sun Devils fall to No. 5 Arizona 105-60, snaps two-game win streak

With just a handful of games remaining, ASU men's basketball drops to .500 record after a historic 105-60 loss in Tucson


ASU head coach Bobby Hurley screams at the referees during a game against USC at Desert Financial Area in Tempe on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024. ASU won 82-67.

In a rematch of one of Arizona State's most important wins in program history, the Sun Devils couldn't stop the bleeding against the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats to open the game in Saturday's 105-60 loss.

It is Arizona's largest margin of victory against ASU in the rivalry's long history. UA is now historically 158-87 against ASU, with a 91-32 record in Tucson.

Arizona's first haymaker came immediately — just as the game began, redshirt senior center Oumar Ballo won the tip, raced into the paint and finished the play with a monstrous dunk that sent the crowd onto their feet. 

The atmosphere in the McKale Memorial Center matched that of a bad-blood heavyweight fight. Tension was thick; at moments throughout the night, the Wildcat faithful chanted expletives toward the visiting Sparky.

"It's hard to really come up with a glaring weakness that they have," head coach Bobby Hurley said. "They've been very explosive all year. This is an outcome that I feared could be a reality for us based on just watching film and watching them a lot this season; they are a very gifted team." 

The Sun Devils answered Arizona's initial punch when graduate guard Jose Perez drove into the lane and knocked down his first of a few key midrange jumpers in the first half. Perez was the engine that kept the Sun Devils within striking distance of the Wildcats in the early minutes, leading ASU with nine first-half points on 4-7 shooting.

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But after a rare hot start from the Sun Devils' inconsistent offense, the team went cold just as the Wildcats' senior guard Caleb Love became red hot. Love answered ASU's early surge with an emphatic 3-pointer and a dunk that helped the Wildcats surge, which the Sun Devils were unable to halt.

The Sun Devils had no answer for Love. The North Carolina transfer was the catalyst of McKale's raucous environment, finishing the first half leading all scorers with 12 points.

After a solid offensive start, ASU finished the first half shooting 40% from the field, while the Wildcats held an 18-point lead and shot a scorching 68%.

Additionally, the Wildcats dominated the Sun Devils in the paint, earning a 52-16 advantage over the course of the game.

"We couldn't stop Ballo around the basket; we were in all kinds of foul trouble with our front court relatively quickly in that first half," Hurley said. "My biggest criticism of us is how we finished the half ... Particularly the last minute, it was embarrassing that we gave up layups, and we gave them multiple opportunities, and they were able to stretch the lead to 18 points." 

The Wildcats refused to relent, keeping their foot firmly on the gas throughout the second half. Ballo once again jumpstarted the Wildcat's second-half onslaught, immediately earning a trip to the free throw line but missing both shots. 

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Then, UA took its game to another level, scoring 33 bench points in the second half alone and snatching a 40-point lead. 

"We were overwhelmed today, we were outgunned today. We had very little hope today," Hurley said. 

Ballo and Love finished the game with 15 points, respectively, while redshirt junior guard Adam Miller finished as ASU's leading scorer with 16 points. UA sophomore guard Jaden Bradley led all scorers with 21 points, scoring 13 of those in the second half. 

"They're a really good team," Miller said. "The thing about them is they have good individuals, some great, but when they play together and get on a run like that, it's hard to keep up with them like that, so kudos to them."

Junior guard Frankie Collins, the team's defensive heartbeat, struggled from the field, shooting 3-11 and finished with eight points. With Collins's one steal against UA, he is now two away from the ASU single-season steal record held by Lafayette "Fat" Lever. 

The Sun Devils will have the opportunity to right their wrongs and get back on track when they face the Washington Huskies on Thursday night back in Tempe at Desert Financial Arena.

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Shane Brennan

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