The Cal Golden Bears dominated the Sun Devils at Desert Financial Arena, winning 81-66. ASU now has an overall even record through the season, a losing record in Pac-12 games, and has lost six of their last seven games.
A day after Groundhog Day, the Sun Devils honored the holiday by playing the same game they've played since the start of the Pac-12 slate. It was another tale of two halves.
The Sun Devils struggled in the first half, being outscored 38 to 26. They had a solid second half, only being outscored by three points, but major factors came into play that led Cal to the win.
First, the rim seemed to be about 10 feet wide for the Golden Bears; they shot 50% from both the field and the three on fewer attempts than ASU in both those categories.
Second, after what head coach Bobby Hurley described as a “coach’s decision,” the team’s second-leading scorer and one their most experienced players, graduate student guard Jose Perez, didn’t get a tick of playing time the entire second half.
Third, Cal's Fardaws Aimaq and Jaylon Tyson had strong performances. Aimaq currently leads the Pac-12 in rebounding and had 20 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists against ASU. Tyson is currently second in the Pac-12 in scoring and gave ASU 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.
Lastly, at least it seemed like Hurley thought, the officiating. There was a point in the game where Hurley thought there could be a momentum change; it was when sophomore guard/forward Kamari Lands had a chance at a fast break layup but couldn’t finish with a defender up on him. Hurley then jokingly blamed Lands in the presser, dropping some innuendos of his feelings toward the men with whistles around their necks.
"Kamari drove in, and he fell down; he’s got to work on his footwork," Hurley said. "You know, he’s really clumsy on that layup."
After the game against Stanford, Hurley said that he wanted to look at minutes and utilize his bench more. He also recently said that one of his top priorities is developing his bench, and they looked good tonight despite the loss.
Sophomore center Shawn Phillips Jr. played his most minutes of Pac-12 play against Cal and had 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. After the game, graduate student forward Alonzo Gaffney talked about the impact Phillips has on the floor.
“Shawn’s back, and he’s getting healthy, and he’s getting out there a lot more,” Gaffney said. “We need him a lot more so he can get the ball down low and score a lot of points down there because Shawn can score that ball. All credit to him.”
Gaffney then said that he feels the team is a little more comfortable with Shawn in the game. They like to have a “big body down” low that can score from the post-up and be a shot blocker on the defensive end.
Lands also looked good; he had seven points, five rebounds, two steals and a block. Hurley recently said that although Lands has been struggling, his confidence can contribute, and he showed that in Saturday's loss.
The Sun Devils were in a similar position at the end of non-conference play, losing three in a row. Hurley said that things have come “full circle,” and he is seeing some of the things that “haunted” them in the end non-con in how they are playing right now.
ASU is now on its longest losing streak of the season and four straight. They head to the mountains to take on two teams they have already beaten in Utah and Colorado, but both teams are undefeated on their home floor.
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Shane Brennan and Angelina Steel.