Every season brings about uncharted territory that a team must maneuver and Wednesday night was no different for Arizona State.
The Sun Devil basketball team has mastered the art of overtime victories this season, but Coach Herb Sendek's squad encountered their first taste of defeat in extra minutes in a 79-74 loss at UCLA.
Though the Sun Devils have been far from dominant on the road this season, they prepared for their trip to Los Angeles with the mindset that every game they play is now of the must-win variety.
Unfortunately, a sloppy overtime period and a bevy of missed opportunities earlier in the game sent the Sun Devils back to their hotel rooms with their work cut out for them.
Arizona State fell behind by five points at the start, but sophomore Jonathan Gilling helped spur a nice recovery by sinking four 3-pointers in the first six minutes of play.
Gilling helped the Sun Devils open up a seven-point lead on the Bruins, but UCLA would claw back and tie the game just a minute before the first half ended.
With five seconds remaining in the half, point guard Jahii Carson drove to the hoop and scored two of his team-high 22 points to give Arizona State a 41-39 lead at the break.
The halftime lead didn't stand for long as Arizona State played much of the final ten minutes of regulation in catch-up mode.
Highly touted freshman Shabazz Muhammad gave the Bruins a critical lead with 10:50 remaining when his 3-pointer put UCLA up by two.
The Bruins would hold that lead until Carson drove in for another layup with just 2:22 remaining to tie the score at 67.
Despite the back-and-forth nature of the game, the Bruins had a chance to put the game away when Jordan Adams hit a 3-pointer with less than 90 seconds remaining to give his team another two-point advantage.
Amazingly, the speedy Carson brought the Sun Devils right back after a Larry Drew turnover resulted in a fast-break layup for the freshman point guard.
Carson's game-tying basket evened the score at 70, and the teams were forced to determine the victor in overtime.
Despite suffering an 18-point blowout to the Sun Devils in Tempe earlier this year, the Bruins appeared undaunted on Wednesday night.
Though Arizona State held a 3-0 record in overtime games this season, sloppy play and poor shooting hindered the Sun Devils' chances at securing their 21st win of the season.
The freshman trio of Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad combined to score all nine points of the overtime period for the Bruins and outlasted the determined play of the Sun Devils stars in the 79-74 heart breaker.
Carrick Felix scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, but the senior did not attempt a shot after he gave his team a 72-70 lead with 2:51 left in overtime.
As for Carson, the freshman scored 22 points and dished out seven assists, but he also saw four layups blocked by UCLA guard Jordan Adams.
Regardless, the Sun Devils' dynamic duo would not have been able to do it alone, and the supporting cast failed to step up in crunch time.
Jordan Bachynski had 10 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks, but that stat line pales in comparison to his magnificent outing against the Bruins in Tempe earlier this season.
As for the off-guard position, Evan Gordon and Chris Colvin did not score a single point against UCLA and Gordon missed a crucial 3-point shot that could have tied the game at 77 with just 35 seconds left.
Though Wednesday's effort wasn't the finest outing for the Sun Devils, they'll have little time to dwell on what went wrong as they take on a USC team on Saturday night that is coming off a shocking upset of the Arizona Wildcats.
The Trojans pushed the Sun Devils to overtime in their last matchup, but Arizona State will need a solid effort to avoid a late season letdown on Saturday night.