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'What goes around comes around:' Second-half run helps Stanford take down the Sun Devils

After getting the job done on the road against Stanford earlier in the season, ASU falls at home in a sad late second half

ASU junior guard and forward Jamiya Neal (5) defending against Stanford at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. ASU lost 62-71.

ASU has now lost five out of their last six match-ups after a late-game tailspin against Stanford, where the Cardinal went on a 17-2 run in the last seven minutes of the game. This late-game hot streak led Stanford to win 71-62. 

This was a cookie-cutter loss for the Sun Devils. In all but one of their Pac-12 losses, they led at half, like last night's game where ASU led 33-29. The second half has been ASU’s worst opponent. 

With sophomore center Shawn Phillips Jr. still getting fully comfortable in his role with the team, and ASU not having any other similar size, they struggled against a tall Stanford squad. 

ASU was outscored in the paint, and they continued their trend of being out-rebounded by Stanford. Stanford had two starters who finished with over 10 rebounds.

With the paint being very congested, ASU was forced to try some different looks to spread the defense and open up the paint. Head coach Bobby Hurley said the team has to move into different areas, change sides of the floor, and try to change the alignment. 

ASU junior guard Frankie Collins (1) walking down the court at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. ASU lost 62-71.

“When you're playing that (Stanford) defense, you gotta be able to make some shots to try and stretch the defense, to open up driving lanes for someone, or to get them out of the defense because you're shooting them out of it, and weren’t able to do any of those things.”

This game mirrored what happened at Stanford earlier in the season. ASU was down in the first half and came back and stole it in the second. Here in Tempe, Stanford came back after being down at the half. Junior guard Jamiya Neal said, “What goes around comes around.” 

“It (coming back) happened to us there, and we made a late surge,” Neal said. “I guess it came around to bite us this time and they made a late surge. We couldn't make any shots, and we couldn’t get any stops, and you know that killed us.”

Hurley said recently a goal of his was to develop his bench, and this game was an example of why this is important. He runs a fast-paced, aggressive, and transition-focused team, and when he can only trust a couple of players coming off the bench, the starters get tired quickly, and the defense deflates. 

“There’s been a common theme with that, and some of these games, you know, late in the game, not having enough to close it,” Hurley said. “I think I need to force myself to try and trust the bench more and get fresh bodies on the floor a little more frequently.” 

ASU graduate student guard Jose Perez (12) shoots at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. ASU lost 62-71.

Even though ASU suffered a loss, Phillips looked good, sophomore guard forward Kamari Lands had 6 points, and graduate student guard Jose Perez had his usual bag work leading the team with 14 points. 

Hurley has said that he has confidence in Lands. He said that his 6 points gave the team a little boost tonight and hopes that he is starting to find his way in Tempe.

Leading up to the game, Perez said that since he and Phillips are roommates, they get to chat about basketball and their performances all the time. He said that Phillips could be helpful to this team. 

“He could help post up when I don’t get to post up, and I could space the floor for him,” Perez said. “And then when we got four guards with Shawn in there, it’s going to be really tough to guard … he’s young, but once he puts it all together he is really talented.”

In a matinee this Saturday in Tempe, ASU looks to snap a three-game losing streak against Cal, who they have already beaten once. 

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Shane Brennan and Angelina Steel.

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