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Sun Devils second-half surge falls short in 85-67 loss to No. 6 Arizona

After a rough first half and second-half resurgence, the Sun Devils couldn't pull of the upset against the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats


Then ASU sophomore guard Frankie Collins (10) goes in for a layup against UA at T-Mobile Arena on Friday, March 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nev. ASU lost 59-78.

In the last regular season Pac-12 matchup between the ASU Sun Devils and the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats, the Sun Devils fell 85-67 on Wednesday night. After losing by 45 in Tucson, the Sun Devils came in hoping for an upset but were left with another double-digit loss.

The uphill battle for the Sun Devils was an early lead the Wildcats refused to squander. With just under 8 minutes to go in the first half, Arizona was up 18, and they finished the half up 14. 

The second half was much more competitive; the point differential was only +4 for Arizona compared to the +14 after the first half. 

The Sun Devils came out hot, starting the second half on an 8-0 run, cutting into the Arizona lead and bringing it to a five-point deficit with 7:02 to go in the game. 

But even though ASU put themselves in the position to strike back, they couldn’t get over the hump. After the loss, redshirt junior guard Adam Miller talked about how to take the next step when you are in striking distance. 

"Stops, quality shots," Miller said. "When we run and push in transition, we got to score. You got to execute on both ends of the floor better." 

After the game, head coach Bobby Hurley talked about why they struggled to perform well for the full 40 minutes. 

"It is reflective of all the things we were incapable of doing, particularly in the first half that forced us to chase," Hurley said. "Missing jump shots too frequently, not attacking the basket, and not being able to rebound successfully throughout the course of the game."

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Hurley noted after the game how he feels "in all his years coaching at ASU" that this is most likely the best Arizona team he has ever faced. Hurley said they are "better than we (ASU) are right now." 

Combined with Arizona's talent, ASU didn't do itself any favors with poor shooting in the first half. ASU shot 29% from the field, 29.4% from three, and only 50% from the line. The Wildcats, in contrast, couldn't miss at the start of the game as they shot 54.5% in the first 20 minutes. This helped Arizona hold the lead for the entirety of the game.

Ahead of this game, junior guard-forward Jamiya Neal talked about ASU's offensive woes and why the team remains confident despite them. 

"We know where we are as far as an offensive team compared to all the other teams in the country," Neal said. "But honestly, coach Hurley believes in us … he watches us make those shots every day at practice; he watches guys work and shoot. Sometimes they just don’t fall, but you're never supposed to lose confidence, and he never loses confidence in us."

To finish their last Pac-12 regular season, the Sun Devils head to Los Angeles to take on USC, who they defeated, and UCLA, who they lost a close one to. These last two games are important for the Sun Devils, as they'll ultimately decide whether they will have a losing or winning record, as well as affecting their seeding for the Pac-12 tournament in March. 

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Angelina Steel. 

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