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ASU Basketball: Cold Sun Devils unable to find consistent offense in 75-70 loss

Arizona State fought hard, but shooting struggles plagued them in a five-point defeat at California.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Once again on Thursday, the Arizona State Sun Devils gave their opponent all they could handle. But for the fifth time in six conference games, they came up just short.

The California Golden Bears jumped out to an early lead and hung on through a late ASU rally, surviving for a 75-70 win. With the victory, Cal coach Counzo Martin's team improved to 12-0 on the season inside the friendly confines of Haas Pavilion.

The Sun Devils missed their first five three-pointers of the game, and things didn't get much better after that. They managed to get into the bonus with 12 minutes still remaining in the first half, but were unable to take advantage as a lazy offensive attack refused to take the ball inside.

California opened up a 31-20 lead late in the first stanza and ended up taking a 38-30 lead into the locker rooms. The maroon and gold shot at just a 33-percent clip from the field and 20-percent from beyond the 3-point line in the first 20 minutes.

Guard Andre Spight was the lone bright spot for the Sun Devils. The junior had eight points off the bench to singlehandedly keep his team within striking distance.

ASU trailed by as many as 14 in the second half before a quick barrage of points got them back into the game. A 10-0 run cut the deficit to 59-57 with eight minutes remaining, and from then on both teams went back and forth exchanging blows.

The game stayed between one or two possessions the rest of the way, and the Sun Devils had a look at a game-tying shot with 15 seconds remaining off a pick-and-roll for point guard Tra Holder.

Holder's shot ended up bouncing off the left rim and into the hands of Jabari Bird, who sunk two free throws to put the dagger into Arizona State.

California improved to 13-6 (3-3, Pac-12) with the 75-70 win, while the maroon and gold fell to 11-8 (1-5).

Freshman Ivan Rabb led all scorers, scoring 20 points in addition to pulling down eight rebounds for the Golden Bears. Obinna Oleka scored in double figures for the third consecutive game, leading the visitors from Tempe with 14 points.

Next up is a trip across the bay to Stanford, where Bobby Hurley's team will be desperate for a victory. The game will start at 9:00 p.m. (MT) and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.