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ASU MBB: Sun Devils flame out in 81-65 loss to Cal

The Sun Devils made six 3-pointers in the first half, but only made one in the second during their loss to Cal on Sunday night.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State couldn’t make a field goal over a six-minute stretch in the second half, and the Sun Devils suffered their first conference loss of the season to the California Golden Bears, 81-65, at Haas Pavilion on Sunday night.

The Sun Devils (8-7, 1-1 in Pac-12) shot a measly 31 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes of the game after shooting 48 percent in the opening half.

Before entering conference play, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said his team was still developing an identity. The Bay Area trip provided the perfect chance to do a little soul searching.

Two games into the Pac-12 schedule, the blueprint to an ASU victory is clear and comprehensive—shoot the rock, and shoot it with confidence.

The Sun Devils maintained the scoring tear they used to outlast Stanford to close out the calendar year on Friday, shooting 6-for-13 from 3-point range in the first half.

The effort, however, wasn’t sustainable. ASU only made 1 of 11 treys in the second stanza, going 31 percent from the field overall.

Meanwhile, the Golden Bears matched the Sun Devils’ high-octane approach and simultaneously enforced their own will. They dominated the post, out-rebounding the Sun Devils, 39-25, amidst collecting nine offensive rebounds.

Cal was just as clinical from beyond the arc. Senior guard Grant Mullins (tied team-high 20 points) went 5 of 8 from 3-point land, and the Golden Bears combined to make 11 of 25 3-pointers overall.

Cal forward Ivan Rabb led the charge, offensively. The sophomore recorded a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double by halftime, and finished the game with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.

With the Golden Bears leading 60-55 with under eight minutes to go, Rabb picked up his fourth foul and was subsequently sent to the bench, but the Sun Devils were unable to take advantage, going ice cold from the field.

The Sun Devils only managed to hit two of their final 17 field-goal attempts, allowing the Golden Bears to pull away on a game-cinching 14-2 run.

The loss marks ASU’s first conference defeat of the campaign and stunts a two-game winning streak for the Sun Devils. They will return to Wells Fargo Arena to host Colorado in their Pac-12 home opener on Thursday, Jan. 5.