ASU Basketball: Forced turnovers and free-throws the difference

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 19: (L-R) Romello White
TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 19: (L-R) Romello White /

ASU basketball was able to complete their first weekend sweep of the season after defeating the UCLA Bruins 88-79 in Tempe.

For the first time this season, the Arizona State Sun Devils have an in-conference record above .500. The Sun Devils were able to defeat the Bruins in a decisive shootout thanks to their defense and made free-throw.s

After their latest win against USC Thursday, the Sun Devils found a recipe for success. That recipe requires deflections, steals and constant energy on the defensive end. Against USC, the Sun Devils caused 18 turnovers that led to 14 points in transition.

During the first victory over UCLA in the Hurley era, the Sun Devils recreated that same success on defense. ASU forced the Bruins into 12 turnovers and nine steals.

More from Devils in Detail

Those 12 turnovers led to 11 points in transition. The Sun Devils won by nine points. Without those turnovers, this would’ve been a very different game.

True freshman Kimani Lawrence played his best game as a Sun Devil against UCLA. He was vehement on the defensive end and single handily changed the game.

Lawrence grabbed seven rebounds and scored eight points in 16 minutes of playing time. However the final box score didn’t tell the whole story.

The freshman deflected a fast break pass out of bounds that led to ASU setting up their defense. On the very next play the freshman stole a pass inside. Two plays later, UCLA guard Aaron Holiday had the ball stollen away from him by, you guessed it, Kimani Lawrence.

His defensively dominant stretch was capped off by an at-the-rim rejection of Chris Smith, which sent the Tempe crowd into a frenzy.

ASU played perhaps their most efficient game of the season against UCLA. The Sun Devils only coughed it up seven times and shot an extraordinary 89 percent from the line on 25-28 free-throw attempts.

Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice combined for 62 points on the night. The senior trio dominated the ball for ASU from start to finish and it paid-off.

The Sun Devils have now won three games in a row for the first time in conference play. Bobby Hurley‘s squad may have not only their identity back, but also their swagger.

Saturday’s victory over UCLA can be seen as one of this years best victories. It will certainly weigh heavily on Selection Sunday.

Next: ASU Basketball Sweeps L.A. Schools

ASU couldn’t have picked a better time to get hot. With their biggest game of the season only five days away, the Sun Devils will need every bit of momentum to defeat the 13th-ranked Arizona Wildcats, even with a home court advantage.