TEMPE - Teams that lose must-win games usually don’t get a shot at the Big Dance.
It seems like a simple concept, one that might seem stupid to even mention, but Arizona State (18-9, 9-7 Pac-12) has now lost a pair games labeled as “must wins”: a home loss to Oregon, and Thursday’s 67-59 loss to Colorado (15-12, 7-9) at Desert Financial Arena.
Meaningful basketball in late-March now seems like a distant reality.
“We got to find more ways to score,” head coach Bobby Hurley said.
Guards DJ Horne (15 points) and Desmond Cambridge (12 points) each had the hot-hand early, and they led the team in scoring.
Forward Warren Washington returned from an illness and looked strong with 6 points, 5 rebounds and a team-leading plus-minus of 9, but he only played 23 minutes. That total was the second-lowest of the five starters. After the game, Washington admitted he felt fatigued in his first game back in almost two weeks.
Two-man game @djhorne0 leads @5warrenw to a dunk— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) February 17, 2023
Frankie Collins, who played 21 minutes, found himself in foul-trouble in the first half.
Six offensive rebounds in the first half turned into 10 second-chance points, and they forced 8 turnovers, but the 1-for-3-total from the free-throw line was alarming in the first half. The guards were shooting well, but they failed to build a foundation inside the paint.
After half, they continued to struggle finding any sort of dynamic attack on offense. Colorado went on a myriad of runs, including an 11-4 run in the middle of the half, and a 9-0 sprint to close the game. The Sun Devils only added two more free throws for a grand total of five attempts on the night.
At the end of the game, ASU finished with a 36.9%-showing from the field, and they made 27.6% from deep.
Following a home-matchup against Utah on Saturday, ASU will have two-straight Quad-1 matchups at Arizona and at UCLA. Any hopes at a miraculous run into the NCAA Tournament would have to start with a win in each of those games.
Royalty in the building @JHarden13 /// @TheSunDevils pic.twitter.com/QTniky2n3G— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) February 17, 2023