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.
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.