For the AP Poll, Arizona State (11-2) must’ve made the naughty list. While still a few days until Christmas, Saint Nick had ASU’s fate sealed on a not-so-jolly holiday for Bobby Hurley. The Sun Devils found their stockings stuffed with 37 pieces of coal on Wednesday, signifying the jaw-dropping point differential in a humiliating 97-60 defeat at San Francisco (10-4).
Not once this year has Bobby Hurley’s team looked overmatched entirely, especially in their now snapped nine-game win streak. But in ASU’s final non-conference game of the season, and without star scorer Desmond Cambridge, the Dons dominated the Sun Devils in all facets of the game.
“(There) was more to it than one guy being out,” said Bobby Hurley.
Unlike boxing, basketball games aren’t over until the clock reads 0:00. Tonight, if the officials had the ability to stop the match, it would’ve been early. In the first ten minutes of the game, Arizona State saw just two points on their side of the scoreboard, while a usual rock-steady defense was washed away by the bay’s fierce riptides of three-pointers.
“I’ll credit San Francisco,” said Hurley. “They hit shots early in the game. They had a huge advantage when we were chasing. It’s on me to get these guys ready to play and we didn’t do that overall.”
In total, San Francisco poured in 15 deep balls on 29 tries. In response, the Sun Devil shot just 5-of-26 from downtown. It was just one of many shooting stat that USF outclassed ASU in, including a horrid 56% performance from the free throw line by the Sun Devils.
The scoring struggles lasted throughout the entire first half as it took Arizona State 16 minutes into the game before recording double-digits on the scoreboard.
While plenty of fans would’ve loved to be a fly in the wall in the visitor’s locker room of War Memorial Gym, Bobby Hurley’s unquoted tirade didn’t change the fortunes of a defeated Devils squad. The next 20 minutes held more of the same, with the Dons scoring easily while the Devils laid down for the count. At its highest, the San Francisco lead reached 47, just three points shy of what would’ve been ASU basketball’s worst loss by point differential in program history.
Everything that ASU has been able to hang its hat on fell out from underneath them in San Francisco. They couldn’t score from any spot on the floor. Most alarmingly, the defense was without urgency.
“Not getting to shooters, giving up offensive rebounds, there were numerous breakdowns,” said Hurley. “We gotta compete a little harder.”
San Francisco essentially ripped Sparky’s fork from his hands and shoved it straight through his head, with the bleed-out process occurring all throughout the second half. It got so bad that Hurley couldn’t even bear to witness the beatdown, taking his second technical foul of the game at the four-minute mark of the second half as he hit the showers early.
As for the actual team, they might’ve wished to be joining Hurley in his early exodus from the massacre. Without Cambridge on the floor, DJ Horne and Frankie Collins failed to carry the scoring load by shooting a meager 7-for-31 from the field combined, adding up to a third of ASU’s total score. If there were any star of the night, Jamiya Neal’s 11 points on 50% shooting were the brightest in a dull night sky.
When it was over, Arizona State had solidified its worst offensive and defensive performance of the season in the same game. When these kinds of eggs get laid, sometimes it’s best to just throw them straight out of the basket.
“This is one of those games you don’t even watch,” Hurley said. “You just forget it.”
For the first time in over a month and the second time in 13 games, Arizona State has tasted defeat. Despite the loss, the team seems to be motivated, at least according to this postgame tweet from Des Cambridge.
very few have believed in us since i stepped foot on campus. and i have no problem with that cause i’m used to it. if today’s performance puts you off us, cool; just make sure you stay on that side cause it was NEVER genuine. #peacelovenppsitivity #forksup— Desmond Cambridge Jr. (@dezcambridgejr) December 22, 2022
Time will tell if the Sun Devils clear up their memory enough for That Team Down South, whose No. 1 nationally ranked offense will look to make it an unhappy new year in Tempe on December 31st.
“We gotta get back to playing the defense that we have been playing,” said Hurley. “It’s one (game) that you put behind you.”