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ASU Men’s Basketball: Sun Devils’ second half performances leads to mid-season slip

Arizona State’s recent struggles drops the team into a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-12

USC v Arizona State Photo by Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

Losing three of their last four, Arizona State (11-8, 5-3 Pac-12) encountered some bumps on the road in their final quest back to March Madness as a member of the Pac-12 Conference.

With losses to Washington, UCLA, and Oregon, the Sun Devils are positioned in a three-way tie for second place in the conference. There are 12 conference games remaining on their schedule.

ASU’s second-half performances have served as a testament to winnable games slipping through the fingertips of the Devils’ hands that seemingly had a firm grip on the conference early in the season. Coach Bobby Hurley’s team once held the best conference start since 2007-08, but has since simmered down to a more humble 5-3 record.

With no emerging front-runners in the conference yet, the Sun Devils will try to escape mediocrity by cleaning up their play coming out of the halftime tunnel.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 11 Arizona State at Washington
In their recent three defeats, Arizona State faced challenges in preventing their opponents from gaining momentum during the second half of the games.
Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the last three ASU losses, the Sun Devils have allowed their opponents to shoot over 50 percent on field goals in the second half, resulting in an average of 48 second-half points by opponents. Teams also averaged 18 points in the paint in the second half of games in their last three losses.

In all three losses, opponents increased their field goal percentage in the second half.

As for the offensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils struggled to find consistency.

Only twice did a Sun Devil reach double-digit second-half points in the past four games, including the dominant win over the Trojans. In all four games, ASU failed to score more points in the second half than they did in the first.

The meltdowns in the second half haven’t necessarily been the norm for Hurley’s fighting squad. ASU has pulled off remarkable second-half performances this season but has run out of gas as of late.

The Sun Devils’ next opponent lies awaiting their arrival after Oregon State shocked Arizona at the buzzer on Thursday. The Beavers enter Saturday’s clash with only a 2-6 conference record, but now hold obvious momentum.

OSU’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Jordan Pope, has scored over 20 points in three of his last five games and is sixth in the conference in scoring. Arizona State could earn a much-needed road win, only their third road win of the season thus far, should the Devils keep Pope in check, especially in the second half.

Arizona State plays Oregon State at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon, for what could be the final time.