Foul trouble late in the second half and a lack offensive production led to ASU basketball‘s first loss of the season falling to 7-1 on the season.
The Staples Center crowd was in for a treat at the main event of the Hall of Fame Classic.
The University of Nevada Reno came in looking to solidify their spot and show their grit.
Meanwhile ASU and the fearsome Luguentz Dort came in with high hopes for an upset and that classic “here we are” moment.
The Devils dove into their matchup against the sixth-ranked Wolf Pack with enthusiasm, energy and flawless execution.
In the first half, at least.
ASU’s aggressive and attacking defense held the Wolf Pack to 32 percent from the field and forced an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers. The tempo was set, and ASU had a choke hold on tonight’s tilt 20 minutes in.
The second half? It told a very different story. A subpar second half resulted in a major resume boost for Nevada Reno, and ASU’s first loss of the season.
So, what went wrong for ASU in the game’s final frame?
It was simple, they ran out of gas and the fouls added up quick.
Just like that, ASU was without two of their most important pieces during the games most important juncture.
Without Lawrence in the corner to space the floor and Cheatham unable to facilitate an offense, the Sun Devil offense bogged down. A lack of ball movement plus the rusty Remy Martin and Rob Edwards gave the Devils limited options on the attack.
The Wolf Pack pounced on the opportunity and jumped out to a 62-52 lead with 5:03 to play. Caleb Martin continued his uncanny season long second half showcase. He tallied 12 second half points and excelled with the challenge of scoring on ‘Sweet Lou’.
If it weren’t for the superhuman efforts of Luguentz Dort (24 points, four rebounds, four assists) this could’ve been a major loss for the Devils. His 17 second half points reminded all just how special he is, and how good he will be.
But aside from Dort’s dominance, there wasn’t much to like about this performance for Bobby Hurley’s squad. The offense sputtered in classic fashion, and the defense failed to adjust to an offense dominating the inside.
Looking forward the Devils will look to rebound against Georgia in eight days, when they take on the Bulldogs in the Peach State. It’s a chance at redemption, and an opportunity to tune up before embarking on the journey through this seasons toughest stretch.