Sun Devil Basketball: Splits Home Stand, stays in AP Top 25

Week in Review

The Sun Devils had a very important home stand this past week against Colorado and Utah. ASU had a chance to get above .500 in PAC-12 play. Despite some questionable calls down the stretch, Arizona State lost in overtime to Utah due to poor shooting and rushed/poor shot selection in crunch time. ASU did bounce back with a magnificent performance against Colorado this past Saturday which puts Arizona State’s record at 16-5 overall and 4-5 in PAC-12 play.

Game Recap (Utah)

Last Thursday against Utah, some of the struggles that have plagued ASU throughout conference play continued in this game. Surprisingly rebounding was not one of the big issues for the Sun Devils. During the game, there were stretches where Arizona State’s offense looked stagnant and out of rhythm. For most of the first half that was the case. Utah took control of the game and lead 40-33 going into the second half.

Guard Remy Martin and Forward De’Quon Lake helped turn the tide in the second half, each contributing with 10 points off the bench. During the second half, ASU went on a couple of big time runs that put the Sun Devils in control, but their late game struggles continued as they allowed Utah to send the game into overtime. With 9 seconds left, guard Shannon Evans hit a floater in the lane that put ASU up by 3. Instead of fouling one of the Utah players which would have gave the Utes 2 free throws, ASU let the game play out which ended up with Utah hitting a game tying 3 to send the game into overtime.

Utah took control early in the overtime period and ended up holding on to win 80-77.

Different Story vs Colorado

After losing to Utah, ASU desperately needed a win against Colorado. After losing to the Buffs in Boulder, ASU came out with high energy and a great defensive presence forcing Colorado into committing 17 turnovers. Players like Romello White and De’Quon Lake played great interior defense which made the Buff off balance in their offensive approach. Although Arizona State struggled from deep not hitting a 3 in the entire first half, the defensive play from the Sun Devils kept the game tied going into half.

During the second half Arizona State erupted and looked like the team that beat everyone during the non-conference schedule. After not hitting a three in the first half, ASU exploded in the second half hitting 10 three pointers, eventually outscoring the Buffs 48-34 in the second half. Forward Vitaliy Shibel started the barrage hitting the first 3 during the beginning of the second half, and the Sun Devils did not look back. Guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans took over the second half and ASU ended up beating Colorado 80-66 in convincing fashion.

In my opinion this game was one of the best played games ASU has played all season. Their spectacular defensive performance and the way their offense exploded in the second half made the Sun Devils look like they were the 3rd ranked team in the nation again.

What’s Next

This week, Arizona State is on the road and is playing Washington State and Washington, both very winnable games. I believe ASU has broken through their mid season slump and will continue to ride the momentum they gained after beating Colorado. With Tra Holder and Shannon Evans returning to their true selves, the Sun Devils can be a tough team to deal with down the road and in March.

Photo from Sun Devil Athletics

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