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Men's Hoops Tops Cal 71-44 with Dominating Second Half

Mar 3, 2022

The Sun Devils men's hoops team (13-16, 9-10) has now won seven of its last ten games  and six of its last seven after defeating the Cal Golden Bears (12-18, 5-14) on Thursday 71-44. Arizona State never trailed and didn't let the Golden Bears get any closer than four points after its first two buckets.

It was a back and forth first half that saw the Sun Devils hit just two more shots than their opponents. Arizona State shot .429 (12-of-28) from the field compared to Cal who shot .357 (10-for-28). Neither team was able to connect at a high clip from three-point land in the first half. The Sun Devils were just 1-of-5 while the Golden Bears hit 3 of their 11 attempts. 

Both teams grabbed 18 first half rebounds and the Sun Devils were making it a point to push the tempo on those rebounds, outscoring the Golden Bears 9-to-2 in fast break points. Kimani Lawrence had eight first half points after going 3-of-4 (.750) from the field, helping the Sun Devils hold on to a 31-25 lead at the half. 

The second half saw the Sun Devils take over the game. They outscored the Golden Bears 40-19 and shot .643 (18-of-28) from the field and 4-of-8 from three. After back and forth scoring for the first few minutes of the second half, Alonzo Gaffney flushed a putback dunk and Jay Heath swished a three-pointer to force Cal to call a timeout with the score at 42-31. 

The Sun Devils would come out of the timeout and go on a 21-7 run that included three straight possessions with three-pointers from Jay Heath, Marreon Jackson, and DJ Horne. This run also saw an electric alley-oop from Marreon Jackson to Alonzo Gaffney and a monster block from Enoch Boakye, giving the Sun Devils and the home crowd all the energy that they needed. The Sun Devils were able to hold a double-digit lead over the last 13 minutes of the game. 

Overall, the Sun Devils shot .536 (30-of-56) from the field and .385 (5-13) from the three-point line. They were plus-20 (42-to-22) in points in the paint and they scored 16 points off of 13 forced turnovers while only giving up two points off of eight turnovers. The real difference of the night was that the Sun Devils were pushing the tempo every chance they got. They scored 27 fast break points and only allowed the Golden Bears to score two. 

Five Sun Devils posted double-digit scoring. DJ Horne led all scorers with 13 points. Kimani Lawrence had 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jay Heath also had 12 points and Marreon Jackson and Alonzo Gaffney both had 11.

Thursday night's win was the first time all season that the Sun Devils held their opponent to under 50 points and at one point they led by as many as 28. The 44 points is the fewest allowed in a conference game under Coach Hurley and the fewest the Sun Devils have allowed since Jan. 22, 2015, when they won at Cal, 81-44. 

The Sun Devils will look to finish the regular season on a four-game winning streak when they host Stanford Saturday (March 5) at 1 p.m. The final home game will be Senior Day for Kimani Lawrence and Marreon Jackson. 

ASU 71, California 44/Mar. 3, 2022
@California 74, ASU 50/Jan. 2, 2022
ASU 72, California 68/Jan. 28, 2021
ASU 70, @California 62/Dec. 3, 2020
ASU 80, @California 75/Feb. 16, 2020
ASU 69, California 59/Feb. 24, 2019
ASU 80, @California 66/Jan. 9, 2019
ASU 84, California 53/Mar. 1, 2018
ASU 81, @California 73/Jan. 20, 2018
California 68, ASU 43/Feb. 8, 2017
@California 81, ASU 65/Jan. 1, 2017
California 68, ASU 65/March 5, 2016
@California 75, ASU 70/Jan. 21, 2016

Coach Bobby Hurley Quotes
On the groove in the second half
"They're gonna be very deliberate on how they play, they're coming in here with some confidence, the way they played against Stanford, you know, I think they held them to 39 points, so we know their defense is very good. They run their offense, and they make you work on the defensive end. It wasn't gonna be the kind of game that you're just gonna blow a team like that out in the first 6, or 8, or 10 minutes. So I think we just stayed in the course of the game, I just would've liked for us to finish the half a little better, I think we had it to double figures and they cut it to 6 at the half. We left a few things on the table, I thought, late in the first half, but otherwise it was a pretty good performance."
On the transition opportunities for ASU
"That was probably our best offense, especially in the first half. We didn't wanna be in an all-out half-court game with them, because it would've been really, really slow, so if we could speed it up a touch, yet still move the ball and take good shots, then it was gonna be in our favor. That's why I think committing to that was important because a team like that, once we got it to 16, 18, 20 (points), just their style of how they play it makes it more difficult for them to realistically get back into the game. That was important, that we just kept pushing, and I thought our activity was very good, with forcing turnovers. We made a mess, and they shot 30% for the game."
On the inside focus in scoring
"Yeah I think it was 1-for-5 at the half from 3, so you just gotta take what the defense gives you, and they guarded the 3-point line pretty well. We looked in other directions to generate offense."
On holding a team under 50 points for the first time in the season
"We wanted to come out the first four minutes, and we had done that very well our last two games, so that was a priority at halftime, just getting stops, so we kept talking in the huddle. I think at the 11-minute mark they had eight points in the half at that point, so we were saying 'let's keep them to one point per minute this whole half'. And we know too at this time of year that we can't afford to just chill the last 3 or 4 minutes, we have to get in the right mindset of playing for 40 minutes regardless of what the score says, because we're gonna have to play that way really soon and with everything on the line."
On how ASU grew as a team since the game at Berkeley
"The guys, it's more of an offensive thing, I think Coach Fox has done a really good job on getting those guys to play hard. On film, it shows they really guard, and it showed on our last game versus Stanford. We knew they were gonna be tough, they played hard, especially in the first half, I think we just had a little more fire power on offense. We had 30 field goals in the game, which is a lot based on the number of possessions, and for us to shoot at the numbers we shot, shows that we're playing better at the other end of the floor, and I think that's been the difference."
On Pac-12 seeding scenarios
"A lot of people have talked about that, but when you look at those Top-3, I mean, you avoid Arizona, but you're playing UCLA or USC, I mean, to play that game doesn't make a lot of sense. We'll just see how it shapes out this week. I just focus on our team, and how we're playing and get them ready to play, and we'll see what happens."
On the cause for winning 6 of the last 7
"It's our defense, the consistency of how we're playing at that end of the floor, the intensity we're playing it, and the numbers have been really consistent with it. We're getting more contributions from a variety of guys and we're getting good balance, and the guys trust each other. At that end of the floor, we've made enormous strides in the last few weeks. I always worry 'can we score enough points to win the game?' I feel a lot more confident going into games that we can put points on the board."
Kimani Lawrence Quotes 
On winning six out of seven games
"It's a great feeling, so much better than losing, I'm happy that we've found something that has been working for us, we got a rhythm, it's something to build off of going into the Pac-12 tournament, I feel like we're peaking at the right time so it's a positive. 
On playing lower-tier Pac-12 teams:
"I think that we learned a lot early in the season, losing some of the games that we did, this is the same team that beat us by 20 a few weeks ago. We play with a chip on our shoulder no matter who we're playing.
On enabling Cal to struggle in the second half:
"I would say our defense, we came into the game with a mind-set that we own them, especially since we still have a lot to play for, these games still mean something for seeding in the tournament, so these games mean a lot to us."
On seeding for the Pac-12 Tournament:
"We have had that in the back of our minds, we've seen how important these last two games are for us to give us our best chance at competing in the tournament."
On playing fast against Cal:
"We knew what their game plan was going to be, they ranked last in pace of play, we got bigs and guys on the wings at different positions that can run, putting pressure on defense and getting on the Fastbreak benefits our offense, it's fun to play and it's fun to watch.
On Defense improving in the last month:
"Definitely, we're making in-game adjustments, we're more vocal and we've been playing with each other long enough to know our defensive tendencies along with our offensive tendencies. We've been playing as one team really well." 
Alonzo Gaffney Quotes 
 On the difference during the last five games:
"Going out there with more energy, teammates have been on me, coaches have been on me going out there running around and jumping for loose-balls, so going out there with that energy and mindset has helped us."
On confidence within the team:
"It comes within practice and having so much confidence with one another, Jalen Graham and Kiamni have been coming up for us so those guys are making us gel, players like Marreon Jackson, and everyone else have been helping us out a lot.