The Sun Devils had a big second half offensively, scoring 52 points, but it was not enough to get past the 11-3 rival Arizona Wildcats as Arizona topped ASU 84-82 with a last-second tip-in. The Sun Devils shot 11-of-21 (.524) from beyond the arc in a big-time offensive performance, but could not close out at the end in a game that had 13 lead changes and 10 ties.
"Needless to say, it's been a very disappointing year in terms of these types of games, it's been a very tough year not getting the results we were hoping for," said coach Bobby Hurley. "I thought we deserved to win the basketball game tonight."
"I was pleased with Jalen Graham how he has had limited time on the court and limited time in practice and to step up and play the game he played after being out for several weeks," Hurley said. "I thought Josh Christopher did some really fantastic things on offense, big shots, beautiful drives to the basket in the second half, so I'm happy about those things."
Freshman guard Josh Christopher and senior All-American guard Remy Martin led the way with 18 points while Martin added six assists, and senior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. and freshman forward Marcus Bagley added 12 and nine points, respectively as well as six rebounds each.
After trailing the majority of the game, the Sun Devils seemed to have taken control after a Remy Martin layup put them ahead 78-72 with 4:05 to go, but the Sun Devil offense stalled from that point on and they were not able to get it done on the defensive end in the closing seconds.
With the score tied at 82, the Sun Devils forced a Wildcat turnover with 33 seconds remaining. The Sun Devils inbounded the ball to Martin, who dribbled for several seconds to drain the clock, but missed a potential go-ahead layup with nine seconds remaining. The Wildcats rebounded, took it the other way, and won the game at the buzzer with an Azuolas Tubelis tip-on off of an airballed three pointer as the final buzzer sounded.
"I spoke with Remy briefly and he was crushed, he was absolutely devastated after the game," Hurley said. "I had to try to figure out what to say to the kid because he got fouled and it wasn't whistled. I dealt with the frustration of that initially. I talked to Remy [before the play] and I wanted him to wait just a touch more and he just went a fraction early and that allowed there to be enough time for Arizona to go and shoot an airball and tip it in at the buzzer."
A win on Thursday would have been the Sun Devils fourth victory in the previous five games against the Wildcats, a feat that hadn't been achieved since Brooklyn Nets superstar guard James Harden won five straight matchups against the Wildcats in the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Next game: The 4-7 Sun Devils (1-4 in Pac-12) will have to quiclky put the loss behind them as they head to Tucson for a rematch with the Wildcats on Monday, Jan. 25 with a 9 p.m. tip on ESPN2.