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ASU Basketball: Sun Devil offense adjusts in second half for 73-65 win over Washington

2-0 vs the Washington schools

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

TEMPE - On a day where Frankie Collins, Desmond Cambridge and DJ Horne would combine for 26 points on 8-for-27 shooting, most would expect to see an L next to Arizona State’s name in the box score. Jamiya Neal and Devan Cambridge would have none of it however, as the pair stepped up to each set career high point totals as Sun Devils, while Arizona State (14-3, 4-1 Pac-12) put the clamps on Washington (9-8, 1-5) to come out victorious on Sunday afternoon 73-65 in Tempe.

After another slow first half where the Devils shot just 27% from the field, with 12-of-28 points coming courtesy of Jamiya Neal, it looked as if another 40-minute defensive effort would be needed to get the Sun Devils a win. That is until, Arizona State came out of the halftime break on fire with the rock, starting the half on a 26-13 run. Without an extinguisher on defense to stop Neal and Devan Cambridge, the Huskies’ meager 36% shooting performance couldn’t close the gap enough on a scorching second half Sun Devil offense.

ASU’s big second half from the field was a sight for sore eyes, following the team’s rough first half with the rock. Washington’s 2-3 zone had the Sun Devils perplexed for the entirety of the front 20.

“Offense wasn’t great in the first half,” Bobby Hurley said. “It took some time adjusting to their style of defense. That was the message on halftime that our offense hasn’t arrived yet.”

“We missed a lot of bunnies,” Devan Cambridge said.

Luckily for Hurley, his team backed up their No. 29 ranked defense (per Kenpom) and was able to force bad shots on long possessions to keep Washington from getting out ahead while the shots weren’t falling. Even with a dominant showing on the blocks, only Jamiya Neal and his 12 bench points could take advantage against Washington’s 2-3 zone, as the Devils led just 28-26 at the break. Neal’s offensive output was just as key as his defensive efforts in a half where ASU needed him to step up.

“This was the best game he’s played at Arizona State.” said Hurley. “We talked to him about doing a lot of things. He was rebounding the heck out of the ball. His activity level was really good, his defense was really good, the game slowed down where his vision and his reads were really good on offense.”

“Coming off the bench you gotta be ready,” Jamiya Neal said. “You go as they go. However they start the game you go off that. I pride myself on trying to be a spark for this team and today that was scoring and getting rebounds.”

With Neal being the lone bright spot in the first half to keep the Devils fighting, the Sun Devils were going to need others to emerge if they wanted to win. Devan Cambridge answered that call with 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Like Neal though, it was Cambridge’s all-around effort that helped make a difference.

“His motor was terrific today,” Hurley said. “He was doing it all on both ends. For all the highlight dunks and everything he was performing at a really high level. Terrific all-around game for Devan.”

“It was a good game for me,” Cambridge said. “In the zone, I was telling my teammates to look for the lobs and they did. I’ve been waiting for a game like that.”

With seven throw-downs on the night and a handful more emphatic screams into the crowd, the senior forward was the tip of the spear in a one-sided second half for the Sun Devils. As the primary defender on Keion Brooks, Washington’s leading scorer, Devan held the standout senior below his season average in points to stunt the Washington offense.

Any second half comeback attempt by Washington was quickly snuffed out by the big ASU center who wore the Husky title. Warren Washington’s three blocks and 12 boards were vital to their closeout efforts. While the Huskies would eventually cut the lead down to single digits on the ASU reserves, as Bobby Hurley put it, “the game was decided.”

Despite brother Devan enjoying one of his best games as a Sun Devil, Desmond Cambridge could still find solace in an otherwise disappointing performance by his standards. With his second of two threes falling late in the second half, the six-year collegiate hooper eclipsed the 2,000-point mark in the NCAA, a feat not reached by a Sun Devil since Eddie House in 2000.

“He still sucks,” Devan Cambridge said on his brother’s milestone.

With the victory, Arizona State move to 14-3 on the year, with their 4-1 start in the Pac-12 being the program’s best under Hurley. While pundits may not have seen it coming, coach knew this success was coming and doesn’t see it subiding as the Sun Devils hit the road for their next two contests.

“It’s nice to get off to a fast start,” Hurley said. “I wish I could tell you I’m surprised but I’m not surprised.”