Entering the back end of the toughest road trip of the season, it would have been easy for the Arizona State Sun Devils to roll over in Sunday's game against the Colorado Buffaloes.
The shorthanded team had suffered back-to-back 38 and 35 point defeats away from Wells Fargo Arena against two of the toughest teams in the conference. With one last game up in the Rocky Mountains before getting to head home, most expected Bobby Hurley's team to pack it in and not put up much of a fight in Boulder.
To their credit, the Sun Devils put forth a valiant effort on Sunday.
It just wasn't enough.
In a game full of runs, Colorado (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12) made the last one to finally pull away and top Arizona State (14-15, 4-12), 79-69. The loss dropped ASU's record to under .500 for the first time since their opening night defeat against Sacramento State.
It looked as if the home team might run away with this one early on Senior Day as the Buffaloes jumped out to an early 26-12 lead. Slowly but surely, however, ASU worked its way back into the contest behind a tremendous performance from senior Gerry Blakes.
The guard made eight of his team's next 10 points, providing a much-needed spark to pull them within striking distance. Colorado's lead would eventually be trimmed all the way down to 38-35 at the halftime break, the first half ending on a Savon Goodman tip-in to pull within three.
Both teams came out out of the locker rooms strong, and a Tra Holder layup pulled the game even at 45-45. The Buffaloes quickly answered that comeback with an 8-0 binge of their own, but once again Arizona State was able to climb its way back into the game.
An open look converted by Goodman pulled the Sun Devils to within 60-57 with eight minutes to play, and the margin stayed between three and six points for the next four minutes.
That's when Tad Boyle's team ultimately put Arizona State away for good.
Unable to find success on the offensive end of the floor, the Sun Devils only scored two points in the game's final three and a half minutes. Colorado was able to take advantage on the other end, making enough free throws to grab a double digit lead and get its remaining seniors onto the floor.
It was a junior, Josh Fortune, that led all scorers with a 17 point performance off the bench for the Buffaloes. Sophomore point guard Tra Holder led his team with 16 points, a nice rebound after being held scoreless on Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
Next up for Hurley's team is a much needed home game against Stanford. The game will start at 9:00 p.m. (MT) and will be televised by Fox Sports 1.