Conference play has proven to be a cumbersome road for the Arizona State Sun Devils in Bobby Hurley's first season as head coach.
In a clash between the two lowest-standing teams in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils adamantly proved to be the superior squad on Saturday, en route to defeating the Washington State Cougars, 67-55 at the Beasley Coliseum.
Coming off of an overtime loss to the Washington Huskies, the Sun Devils (13-11, 3-8) managed to snap a two-game losing streak with the victory.
The Cougars (9-14, 1-10) were shorthanded without leading scorer Josh Hawkinson (15.9 ppg - 9th in Pac-12), who was out with an ankle injury.
The Sun Devils were able to take full advantage, as their defense held the Cougars to 46 percent shooting, forcing 17 turnovers. However, despite the strong overall defensive showing, it wasn't the fastest offensive start for ASU.
Early on, point guard Tra Holder (16 points) was the only one able to get anything going on offense for the Sun Devils, scoring the team's first five points.
Then, after opening the game shooting just 4-of-13 from the field, the Sun Devils turned it around with a spurt during which they shot the ball 7-of-10 from the field.
The Sun Devils closed the first half shooting 53.1 percent, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from three-point land. They finished the game shooting 48.1 percent overall.
The team also enjoyed a strong performance from guard Andre Spight, who finished with 13 points.
Spight, who entered averaging just over five points per game, finished the first half with 11 points, including 3-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
Obinna Oleka (13 points) was one of three players to finish the first half in double figures, and drilled a long-range, buzzer-beating three-pointer to push ASU to a 40-32 advantage at the half.
In the second half, an impressive performance from the Sun Devils' defense ultimately proved to be the difference.
The pesky play of Hurley's defenders led to four turnovers within the first six minutes, and Washington State was unable to get much going in their halfcourt offense.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Cougars shot at just a 40.9-percent clip in the second half.
Wazzu watched its deficit grow to 19 at one point, amidst turning the ball over 11 times in the frame.
Sun Devil forward Gerry Blakes went 4-of-8 from the field in the half, scoring 11 points and grabbing three steals in the process to help the Sun Devils coast to their third conference win of the season.
The win marks the first conference road victory of the campaign for the Sun Devils this year.
The Sun Devils will continue conference play on Friday, Feb. 12, when the USC Trojans visit Wells Fargo Arena.