ASU Basketball: Devils Earn Split in Washington, Prep for UCLA


Last weekend, the ASU men’s basketball team earned a split against the Washington schools.  On Friday, the Sun Devils lost a close game to Washington State 74-71.  Then turned around on Sunday and beat the Washington Huskies 78-68.

Against the Cougars in Pullman, despite a gritty effort, the Sun Devils could not buy a shot from behind the arc.  They finished the game 3 of 15 from the three-point line.  They also missed a couple free throws down the stretch.  It should be noted that ASU was without the services of Bo Barnes, who is still nursing an injury.  Barnes is one of ASU’s better sharpshooters and was the hero in the victory over U of A.

In Seattle, against the Huskies, the Sun Devils fared better behind the 3 point line.  But more importantly, they dictated tempo against Washington.  Truthfully, with all the injuries to the Huskies this season, ASU probably caught Washington at a good time.  This Washington Huskies team is in a funk right now, having lost 7 straight.

In any event, the Sun Devils earned a hard-fought road victory in Seattle.  During this trip, freshman point guard Tra Holder solidified his role as the primary ballhandler/playmaker for this ASU team.  He followed up his performance against Arizona with two solid games against the Washington schools.  The Sun Devils earned a split on the road, which is absolutely necessary for them to have a shot at post-season play.

Now the ASU basketball team’s attention turns to UCLA.  The Bruins are not quite the team they were last season.  UCLA comes in with an overall winning record and an 8-5 conference record.  However, they are 2-6 on the road.  That stat may be significant since the game is being played here in Tempe.

It would help if senior forward Bo Barnes is healthy and available for this game.  However, with or without Barnes, this Sun Devil team must continue to circle the wagons and protect home court.  To have any chance to play in the post-season, they must win all of their remaining home games.  It starts tonight against the Bruins and continues Sunday at home against USC.

This ASU team has the talent to beat UCLA, that’s not the question.  They just need to play with the sense of urgency that reflects the current status of their team.  If ASU wants to go to the Big Dance, they need to get hot.  And that hot streak must begin tonight against the Bruins.  Essentially, it’s “playoff time” for the Devils.  They need to play with the desperation that playoff games require.

Note:  Tonight’s game is being broadcast on ESPN2.  Tipoff is at 7 pm.