(Photo: Eliav Gabay/WCSN)
Despite some competitive stretches and a valiant effort by the Arizona State Sun Devils, they were unable to hold up against the No. 3 UCLA Bruins on Thursday night, losing 102-80.
The Bruins have one of the most overwhelming offenses in the nation, making a conference-leading 51 percent of their threes. This game was no exception. UCLA made 16-27 threes for a blistering 59 percent. The Sun Devils, who also predicate much of their offense on the three-ball, were unable to keep up, shooting 11-34 from deep.
The Bruins came out guns blazing, making their first six shots and eight of their first 10. While the Devils struggled out of the gate and looked flustered, they collected themselves and tried to recover. ASU went on an 8-0 run to bring the game back to a competitive level. The Bruins responded with a 12-0 run. Then ASU scored seven straight.
The Sun Devils used the power of their elite shotmakers to keep their chances afloat. Senior guard Torian Graham led the team with 26 points on 10-22 shooting, including a couple of outrageous shots that have made him an energizer for the team. Junior guard Tra Holder finished with 22 points, four boards and five assists.
The ebb and flow half continued, and ASU closed the half on an 8-0 run to go into the half with a 54-39 deficit.
Senior guard Isaac Hamilton was the key driver of the offense for the Bruins. He made 7 of 9 from three in the first half, putting up 25 points, and he ended with 33. Point guard Lonzo Ball, one of the top pro prospects in the country, finished with 10 points and 12 assists, a seemingly quiet but impressive double-double.
Those two slowed down to start the second half, and ASU pounced quickly. The Sun Devils put up eight of the first 11 points scored after the break and got the lead down to 10. A short while later, the Devils were only trailing by seven points to one of the best teams in the nation.
UCLA woke back up and shut down the scrappy Devils, going on a 14-0 run themselves. While ASU made a diligent defensive effort for much of the game, the high-powered shooting of the Bruins tired the Devils out, and surrendering the massive run dashed ASU’s hopes of an upset.
The Bruins defense also played well, holding ASU to only 49% percent shooting from the field. ASU was not able to work the ball inside at all, so they had to get into a shootout with one of the top offenses in the nation.
Inconsistency once again became a killer for the Devils. Midway through the first half, they missed 11 straight shots and dug a large hole for themselves. Between the 11:40 and 4:05 marks of the second half, ASU shot -12, effectively ending its hopes of an upset.
While the Devils did play hard for long stretches, the moments where they let up and failed to execute proved far too costly against an elite team.
The Bruins (19-1) have yet to lose at Pauley Pavilion this season, and remain atop the Pac-12. Meanwhile, Arizona State (9-10) falls back under .500 with USC coming up on Sunday.