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Men's Hoops Dominates Colorado in Boulder, 82-65

Feb 24, 2022

Entering Thursday night's game in Boulder, it was an easy decision which game was ASU's best all year. The Sun Devils topped Oregon -- a team that had won 11 of 13 -- last Thursday in Tempe, 81-57.

There is another game now that comes into discussion.

ASU led by as many as 26 in the second half en route to an 82-65 win at Colorado Thursday, topping a Buffalo team that had won five straight.

ASU shot .552 (16-of-29) in the second half, made 9-of-17 (.529) from three and 13-of-15 (.867) from the free throw line for the game and outrebounded Colorado 38-26 to cruise to the win.

Jay Heath had 18 points, while Marreon Jackson (17 points and five steals) and Luther Muhammad (season-high 15 points) came off the bench and led ASU to a 35-15 advantage in bench points. Jalen Graham had 14 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added five boards and three assists.

CU's biggest lead was 5-0 just two minutes into the tilt and there were five ties 10 minutes into the game, but ASU took a 17-16 lead with 8:55 left in first half and never looked back. It raced out to a leads of 25-16 (7:26) and 37-24 (1:19) and didn't let up in the second half, going up 72-46 on a Jay Heath three-pointer with just under seven minutes remaining.

Between the end of the first half (5:37) and the start of the second half (2:07) ASU held the Buffs without a field goal for 7:44.

"We just got our a** kicked tonight guys. There's no way to sugarcoat it. I wish I could. I don't like to curse but I guess it's a three-letter word (and) not a four-letter word, but we just got kicked tonight in every sense of the word. We weren't ready to play. This started in practice yesterday. I saw it coming. I was hoping that our guys could maybe care enough to rebound the ball and execute a defensive game plan, but we were lifeless. We've got a bunch of guys right now that rely on their offense and rely on their shot going in to score the basketball to give them energy to play the game. We don't have the maturity I thought we did. I thought we showed some maturity the last few games, but we don't have the maturity to sustain it in terms of executing a defensive game plan and playing with energy. I've talked about it for the last three weeks. We've got to prepare ourselves to win games or win a game when the shots aren't falling. Tonight was that night. We were unable to do it. We couldn't guard. We couldn't stop them. I'm going to get angry at our team and our players. Angry, and I'm angry right now. I'm going to get angry for three reasons. One is (the) lack of effort, which we showed tonight. Unacceptable. Two is (the) lack of concentration which we showed tonight, which is unacceptable. Three is selfishness. I don't think we were selfish tonight, although I think we took more bad shots tonight than we've taken in the last three games combined. I'd love to look at the film to get those numbers. I don't think selfishness is the issue but lack of concentration and lack of effort (are). That's an issue and it started in practice yesterday. I don't know if our guys think that people are going to give us wins because we're at home. This is our fifth loss in this building. We've got great fans (and a) great student section. There's no excuses for tonight. I'm the head coach, so I'm ultimately responsible."
On the Lack of Concentration Coming Off the Three-Game Road Trip
"It's mind-boggling. (In the) second half, we're supposed to be double-teaming the ball screen to try to get back in the game (and) create some offense with our defense (and) get them to take some quick jump shots. We needed to generate something. They were coming down on a play and we're very deliberate offensively. We're supposed to have two guys on the guy coming off the ball screen. Well, the guy comes off and (makes) the three (point shot). Now we do not have two guys guarding him, we don't have one guy guarding him. He wipes the three. We could never get back in the game because we couldn't get a stop. We kept begging and pleading and talking about it every timeout at halftime. This team didn't have it tonight. Players have to do some soul searching. I'm going to watch the film. I'm going to show these guys the film tomorrow. It's not going to be fun. It's not going to be pretty. I don't care."
On Why Arizona State Outrebounded CU
"(It was) a lack of effort (and a) lack of toughness. Bottom line. That's all rebounding is. Lack of effort, lack of toughness. End of story. That's it. Lack of effort, lack of toughness."
On CU Not Using Their Size Advantage Over ASU
"Rebounding has nothing to do with size. It really doesn't. McKinley Wright taught us that. (He is a) six-foot guard (who) would get six, seven, eight rebounds a game. Size has nothing to do with rebounding. It might be for a seven-footer that's around the glass like (Roman) Silva for Oregon State. When he plants himself in the middle of the lane (his) size matters. But for the most part, rebounding is all toughness and effort and boxing out (with) getting a body on somebody. We worked on it in practice. Again, I'm going to take responsibility because I'm the head coach, but what really (makes me angry) is (that) we worked on rebounding the last two-three days in practice. We specifically worked on it and we got out rebounded by 12 (tonight). That angers me."
On the Effectiveness of the Sun Devils' Guards
"We couldn't guard anybody tonight. Marreon Jackson was (effective in) the first half. In the second half, it was Luther Muhammad. We couldn't guard anybody. We're showing hard on ball screens and getting over the screens. Again, (that's) something we've worked on in practice the last two days. They come off and (make) a three. Marreon Jackson played with much more energy than our guards did tonight (and) more toughness. He's in passing lanes. He was gambling. We don't want to gamble. We want to be in gaps and in passing lanes though. We want to have active hands, but you go down the list: DJ Horne, Marreon Jackson, (and) Jalen Graham (are) much improved players. One thing I knew about Arizona State coming into this game is that Kimani Lawrence and Jalen Graham are much bigger parts of their offense. Coach (Bobby) Hurley) has done a good job of reining some of those perimeter guys in. (They're not) taking as many bad shots as they did in (CU's game against ASU in) Tempe. We weren't able to guard them. They come in our building (and) outrebound us by 12 and hang 82 points on us."
On CU's Struggles in Half Court Offense
"We're struggling (with) getting it because we're not strong enough and tough enough to get them off us (and) get them into a ball screen. We're not tough enough to make a hard cut. They're checking us on cuts. We just gave into it. It's all about toughness. That's what it was. Their guards were tougher than our guards."
On Possibly Overlooking Arizona State
"No, I don't (think we overlooked them), (but) I know I was on edge yesterday. I saw this coming in practice yesterday. (With) the way we practiced yesterday, this is not a shock to me. I'm disappointed because this was an opportunity for us to get in position to have a bye in the first round (of the Pac-12 Tournament). That's going to be difficult. We're going to have to suck it up and we have to beat Arizona and beat Utah to make that happen. After games like this, you're wondering, 'Will we win another game?" The way we played tonight, the answer's no. We won't win another game if we play the way we did tonight. Our players have got to understand that. Those freshmen are not freshmen anymore. The sophomores are not sophomores anymore. Evan Battey deserves more from his teammates than he got tonight, and Evan wasn't very good tonight. Evan wasn't great. That's on Evan, but nobody knows that more (than Evan). Evan's the most self-aware and self-critical player that we have. He deserved more from his teammates. It can't be Evan every single night. The rest of the guys have got to show up mentally and emotionally. Tonight, they didn't. That's on them, and it's on me. I'm the head coach. I'm not blaming our players. I take full responsibility for this loss, but we're going to watch some film tomorrow."
On G Julian Hammond Getting More Playing Time
"KJ (Simpson) and Keeshawn (Barthelemy) were not at their best tonight. It was like 'Hey, let (Julian) have a chance.' Julian's a good player. I've been playing Keeshawn and KJ ahead of Julian, but there's no right that comes with that. They've done that by the way they've played in practice and in games, but when it's not happening, guess what? Tonight's the night we needed Lawson (Lovering). Tonight, we needed Eli Parquet. I needed a bigger bench tonight because there was nobody to turn to. That's what happens when you're down to eight scholarship guys. Will Loughlin did a good job in the first half. Maybe I should have played him more. I don't know if there was an answer on the bench tonight, even though I was searching and I was looking. I was looking for somebody to give us a spark and I was looking for somebody to get on each other. They just had a deer in the headlights look like, 'Coach, save us.' What am I going to do? I can't go out there (and play)."
Colorado Players
So., F Tristan da Silva 
On if the loss was demoralizing
"I would say it's more frustrating that we just couldn't figure out how to get stops on defense. I feel like we let them get going early on. They're a talented team and they can make shots. It's really a team effort to stop them early on, and then shut that water off."

On why the team couldn't make a comeback
"Defense. We couldn't get stops and we couldn't run in transition because we didn't get stops. Transition is a part of our game that gets us going, and we basically took ourselves out of that for the most part."

On if he was surprised that the team wasn't able to get anything going in the post
I told the guys early on that we should go inside and coach [Tad] Boyle said the same thing. It's not just me having a size advantage but also Evan [Battey], Jabari [Walker] and Will [Loughlin] down there, and Nique [Clifford] is also taller than most guards. We do want to play inside out, so it was kind of hard to get things going without paint touches." 

So., G Nique Clifford  
On multiple ASU players consistently making shots
"We didn't come out with energy or defensive pride. It boils down to a lot of things, but we just weren't ready to go on the defensive end, we couldn't get stops on our ball screen coverage and we weren't getting through screens. They were knocking down shots and it hurt us at the end of the day."

On ASU's ball pressure
"I think it put us on our heels, especially in the first half. I think we got a little more comfortable in the second, but they were the aggressors in the beginning of the game. That's why the result was the way it was. We have to start better as a team and we have to be the team that's the aggressors and put people on their heels and get into them on defense, and we didn't do that."

On if the team overoked this game
We had the game plan ready and [Colorado assistant] coach [Rick] Ray did a good job giving us the scouting report. We had everything ready to go but we just didn't come out with energy. I wouldn't say we overlooked them [ASU] because we know that they're a talented team, but we just didn't start well. We let that get to our heads and we weren't able to bounce back in the second half like we had done previously in the last couple games. We just got to get back to the drawing board and get ready to go on Saturday."
Arizona State Head Coach Bobby Hurley
 On how fun the game was
"It reminded me of how we have been playing minus the UCLA game. We really fought to get back in it during the second half. Our two home games vs the Oregon's were kind of that way. We're putting it together at the right time on both ends of the court. Our offense was really good tonight – 49% (from the field). The way we shot the three was probably the best we've shot from there."

On keeping the team motivated to keep competing as the season is winding down
"We know where we stand in terms of our prospects for the postseason. We played really well the past four weeks. We think we have a chance to make some things happen in Vegas and to do that, we have to play at a really high level because that's our only route to the postseason. We are using these last two weeks to get the ball rolling."

On what the difference was today that made the game somewhat lopsided
"I thought our defense was pretty solid in the first half and we made it difficult for Colorado to score. Especially with the turnovers – I think they had a fair amount in the first half. We were able to take advantage of that and get down the court. We ahd really good bench points. Marreon Jackson played very well in the first half – hit some big shots. Jay Heath, Jalen Graham took over in the second half and played outstanding."

On why he called a timeout while the Buffs were on a 5-0 run late in the second half
"Where you're at in that particular juncture, it was a pretty easy decision for me. We had made things pretty difficult and they were getting some hope and life to what they were doing. I just wanted to talk to the guys and refocus them and our guys made some plays."

On Jalen Graham's progression over the season
"He changes us because we can run the offense through him. It's not our guards that we can run through, it's him at the high post and mid-post. He's getting a lot done, he's really been productive. He can pass too. I think he threw an excellent pass out of the low post to Jay Heath for a three in the second half. Those are the big plays. It's not only his ability to score but he's a willing passer."

On Bobby Hurley passing up a wide-open shot at the end of the game
"Back to that again. I know his Mom was rooting for him to take it. It's good to get those guys in and it shows that we're doing something right."

On if Colorado's field goal percentage was in regards to the Sun Devils' defense
"I thought we were fairly active – getting out to those guys and containing the ball well. They weren't able to get drive and kicks and step in threes. Those are the shots they're very good at and we neutralized that area which helped. We've been a team that has guarded the line well for most of the year. I can't say without watching it [what their threes looked like] but we must've had something to do with it."

How important this win was to keep the momentum going to the PAC-12 Tournament
"It's four out of five for us. Our schedule has been really tough. Our strength of schedule overall is one of the top in the country. We played a lot of good teams so for us to win 4 out of 5 – our one loss was at UCLA. I feel good about where we are at today and we have to finish up this week."

On if their win at home vs UCLA propelled them to this win streak
"We were knocking on the door. We played really well at Stanford, we had 12 more field goals than them in that one and didn't win. We lost to USC at home with one minute left and lost a close game there. Prior to the UCLA game, we were able to start believing that we could win and close these games out. That's been the difference."

On how their preparation has changed during this win streak
"COVID has changed our schedule. That's been the same for everybody – Having to play a lot of Monday games. Physically, we toned and scaled back and have done more film study and walkthroughs. I feel good about how to manage these guys to keep their energy at the right place."