What a difference a week can make.
Eight days after easily dispatching No. 15 Xavier while shooting 56 percent from the floor and extending their streak of 90-point games to six, the No. 20 Arizona State Sun Devils found themselves in a rut.
Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena, things weren’t so easy in a 75-57 win over the San Francisco Dons.
Fast, efficient offense and dynamic 3-point shooting propelled ASU toward the top of any scoring metrics to this point of the season, including leading the nation in offensive points per possession entering the night.
Here's a quick look at the most efficient offensive and defensive teams in Division I college hoops so far this season. pic.twitter.com/ekl9Nky75I— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) November 29, 2017
So when ASU came out of the gates firing, it looked to be another 90-point game and a big win for the home team.
In fact, the Sun Devils opened up a 25-6 lead over the Dons midway through the first quarter and the victory looked to be a forgone conclusion with ASU running away and hiding behind its potent offense.
But unlike what the Sun Devils have become accustomed to, it wasn’t the offense that kept San Francisco away, it was the defense.
San Francisco made consecutive shots just three times in the game, finishing at a 28.6 percent clip from the floor and 27.5 percent from beyond the arc, creating long rebounds and few opportunities for ASU to take advantage going the other way.
Redshirt freshman forwards Vitaliy Shibel and Romello White each recorded a block and junior center De’Quon Lake collected two of his own to keep the Dons out of the paint and around the arc.
In the second half, things went sour shooting the ball for the Sun Devils.
ASU missed six of its first eight shots from the field and shot a paltry 36.8 percent over the final 20 minutes, keeping the Dons within striking distance most of the way.
“I feel like they saw what we was doing and they switched up their defense,” White said. “We just have to make the adjustment next time.”
But the defense continued to stifle, keeping the game tight even while struggling to consistently find success on the offensive end of the court. Just three players — White and freshman guard Remy Martin — made more than half of their field goal attempts, but it didn’t much matter.
The scoring streak came to an end, but the winning streak didn’t, and that’s all that matters to Hurley and company.
“We still scored 75,” Hurley said. “It’s not like we had 50. We didn’t play great on offense and we missed free throws and we’re still on that number, so all-in-all it was a pretty good offensive output.”
But with the 7-1 St. John’s Red Storm and No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks ahead next week, “pretty good” may not be enough.