To describe the massacre that occurred at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday night in a simpler task than many would think. It was bad. Bad shooting, defense and just an inability to show a competitive spirit to stay the course when times get tough.
It felt like Princeton and Utah. Not the team that defeated No. 1 Kansas or finally beat their arch rival Arizona after being so close so many times.
Washington State (9-14, 2-8 Pac-12) came into Tempe and wiped the floor with an ASU team (15-7, 6-4) 91-70. The Sun Devils were embarrassed throughout the night offensively and defensively and fell behind as many as 26 points in the second half.
“There wasn’t anything overly positive,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “It was a pretty damaging loss for us, I give Washington State credit for how hard they played and competed tonight.”
The Cougars built their comfortable lead behind a three point barrage. Wazzu was 9-of-17 behind the arc in the first half, and finished the game at a highly respectable 12-of-30.
Washington State’s senior forward Robert Franks, Jr. proved why he’s the Pac-12 leading scorer. Franks Jr. filled up the stat sheet throughout the contest, scoring 34 points, while grabbing 13 rebounds and getting four blocks and steals.
The Sun Devils tried hard to slow him down, but he picked apart the defense all night in order to get favorable matchups.
“It was pretty easy to see why people view him as a potential NBA candidate next year,” Hurley said. “He was draining shots everywhere and we didn’t have any answers for him.”
Franks Jr. wasn’t the only Cougar having his way with ASU on offense. Freshman forward CJ Elleby come one assist shy of recording a triple-double. As he scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out nine assists.
Freshman guard Luguentz Dort was about the only bright spot among for Arizona State on offense. He scored 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting in one of his more efficient performances. Unfortunately, Dort did turnover the ball over five times as the Sun Devils gave away the ball 17 times.
For the highest scoring team in the conference, ASU was held to 34 percent from the field, 15 percent from three and an abysmal 58 percent from the free throw line.
“If you look at our shooting percentages, we didn’t make shots by any means,” senior forward Zylan Cheatham said. “It’s kind of tough when you dig yourself a hole like that and you’re playing catch up the entire game.”
Cheatham did the best he could, he only scored eight points but still secured 16 boards as he remains aggressive and effective on the glass.
As the season grows older, the Sun Devils find themselves in the unenviable position of dealing with the injury bug. Freshman forward Taeshon Cherry won’t be playing this week as he remains in concussion protocol and sophomore forward Romello White left the game in the second half with a leg injury.
Hurley and Cheatham both admitted that they were unable to practice this week at full strength. Sophomore guard Remy Martin missed two and a half practices with an ankle injury, and Cheatham missed practice on Monday with strep throat.
Neither used it as an excuse for the poor performance, but given how out of sync they looked against the Cougars. It’s understandable how injuries and limited practices can take their toll.
Luckily for Arizona State, despite the poor performance they can trust in their senior leader to not get too high or low. Cheatham just keeps the course and is looking ahead to the next game.
“When we wake up in the morning it’s another day,” Cheatham said. “We have a really good team coming in on Saturday and I’m very excited about that game and very excited to get back on the floor with my guys.”