Concession stand lines overflowed, the restroom wait extended out the door, and around the wall and for the first time all season Wells Fargo Arena was bustling with fans from the roof down on Thurday night.
An Obinna Oleka dunk unleashed a booming roar. Kodi Justice’s three-pointers brought down the house, and Torian Graham’s 28-point night had Sun Devil fans glued to the action.
But moments like these only lasted for bits and pieces in Arizona State’s (13-16, 6-10) 87-75 loss to No. 5 UCLA (25-3, 12-3)
For the most part, for a sellout, it could’ve been better, it could’ve been louder and could’ve been even crazier.
“I feel like it could be a little bit louder,” said sophomore Anna Pruter who sat in the first row of the Arizona State student section. “I feel like there’s a lot of people... They could’ve been better.”
Pruter, who came to the 7 p.m. game at 5:30 p.m. to get first row seats, pointed to Arizona State’s record as the issue. Even though the seats were filled, the 13-16 Sun Devils could only bring so much excitement.
“I think we’re just gonna have to win more,” Pruter said. “Next year we’re going to be a lot better. We’re getting a lot of our players back, and we have some good recruits.”
While the lower bowl was jam-packed with with pool-noodles, blown-up celebrity-faced posters and rowdy standing ASU students, the top was packed as well, but seated, lackadaisical and un-entertained.
“Considering there were so many people, I figured it would be more hype, like louder. And the same three sections same three sections (lower bowl) are just as hyped as they always are,” said sophomore Montana Rich. “Maybe they need student section leaders up at the top, too. That will probably get people more involved.”
On the flip side, the 942 Crew loved the company of a top-to-bottom-full student section seemingly for the first time all season.
“The record (most student section attendance) is just over 2,000 and I think we have a great chance of filling the seats and there’s honestly a good chance we might have to send people away,” said 942 Crew student section leader Benji Cabrera.
“It got to the point where we weren’t allowing students in anymore, so whatever the maximum capacity of students is, that’s what we got to,” Cabrera said.
Though the 2,500-plus students and 10,176 fans may have came to see Lonzo Ball and the No. 5 ranked Bruins, the Sun Devils competed from the first whistle onward. Arizona State was down just one point five minutes into the second half and held Ball to a season-low four points.
“I thought we played very well,” Cabrera said. “The shots weren’t falling. We live and die by the three and the three wasn’t falling... They out-rebounded us. There were a lot of missed calls. I think the refs missed a lot of over-the-backs.”
Despite what may have been an underwhelming loud student section, head coach Bobby Hurley was impressed.
“Biggest positives: the atmosphere, the environment. What a crowd—great crowd and tremendous setting. It’s everything you could ask for and hope for from your fans to show up like that support what we are doing.”
Added Graham: “Thanks to the crowd, too. You can’t thank them enough.”