ASU was eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament after losing 78-59 to Arizona

LAS VEGAS — With seven minutes and five seconds remaining in the second half of ASU’s Pac-12 basketball semifinal game against No. 8 Arizona, senior guard Devan Cambridge finished a hard layup to end Arizona’s lead in a game ASU didn’t have. down to a 56-52 lead since the start of the first half.

That was the last field goal the Sun Devils would score in Friday night’s rubber match against the rival Wildcats at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The ensuing seven minutes saw a 22-7 scoring run for Arizona and ended in a 78-59 ASU loss and elimination of the team from the semifinals.

“I had a vision of it and I could see us taking down the nets, but it just didn’t materialize,” said ASU basketball head coach Bobby Hurley after the game.

ASU didn’t shoot well from the field in the first half at 29.4% but shot well deep and knocked down six of 17 3-pointers. Arizona’s offense looked impressive, dictating the tempo of the entire game and dominating the color. Arizona junior forward Azuolas Tubelis scored six quick points before leaving the game with foul trouble.

Arizona’s balanced offensive attack put every one of the Wildcats that played in the first half on the board, giving Arizona a 35-28 half-time lead.

ASU and Arizona traded 4-0 runs to open the second half behind an aggressive surge from sophomore Frankie Collins, who had six quick second-half points. Even so, Arizona extended their lead to just nine and opened the half with more hot shooting as the Wildcats finished 56.4% from field and 52.6% from 3-point land.

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Despite a solid 3-point shooting by Arizona in the second half, junior guard DJ Horne kept ASU in the game with a personal 6-0 run and then countered an Arizona run to take the lead to 10. The Wildcats started the second half shooting 3-5 from 3-point range and 7-10 overall.

After a hot 6-11 start for ASU from deep, ASU failed to make a 3-pointer despite 15 attempts in the last 25 minutes of the game.

To slow down Arizona’s offense, Hurley implemented a courtwide pressing and matchup zone just enough for ASU to hold out with just under eight minutes left as ASU trailed Arizona by 56-49.

The Wildcats ended the game by knocking down four of their last five shots to put the game out of range. Ultimately, the ASU failed to stop Arizona’s internal offensive, which took a toll on the Sun Devils.

Arizona junior center Oumar Ballo and Tubelis combined for 31 points in 15-21 shooting, and Arizona bested the ASU in the color 40-22.

“Their inside players were outstanding tonight,” Hurley said. “There’s a reason they’re considered perhaps the best front-court tandem in the country. They were really good.”

ASU will compete on selection Sunday with signature wins over Arizona in Tucson and over Creighton and Michigan at neutral venues. The Sun Devils are right in the bubble, with ESPN’s Joe Lunardi projecting them as the last team picked for the tournament.

Prior to the tip-off, ASU was present in 72 out of 102 brackets analyzed in Bracketmatrix.com’s aggregation of available bracket projections. Hurley made his closing argument to the committee during the post-game press conference.

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“I went through the process and I understand the assessment process,” Hurley said. “They respect other teams that have had good seasons and are treated like we are. I really think it’s not close if you take our top three wins and compare them to other bubble teams.”

Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd agreed.

“I feel like they’re a tournament-worthy team,” Lloyd said. “I know that – if you play with them in the NCAA tournament, you’re not going to sleep well.”

The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be held on Sunday, March 12 at 4:00 p.m. MST and will air on CBS.

Edited by Walker Smith and Piper Hansen.

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