By Morris Phillips
With a squad as youthful as Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils, success on Senior Day is only attainable if all hands are on deck.
Arizona State had something less than that in a first half in which they shot 26 percent and trailed the winless Golden Bears by six.
But their response after halftime was immediate. A 28-10 run put Arizona State in control, on their way to a 69-59 win at Wells Fargo Arena.
“Our approach was better. Our aggression was better without fouling,” Hurley said. “It looked like we were putting together consecutive determined possessions.”
“We have a history of (poor starts), especially against teams that we should supposedly be beating,” said point guard Remy Martin. “But on senior night with De’Quon and Zylan and the managers, we weren’t going to let that happen.”
The Sun Devils’ two seniors, De’Quon Lake and Zylan Cheatham, did their part, combining for 16 points and 16 rebounds. But ASU usually gets its offense from younger sources like Rob Edwards who came up with 14 of his 16 points after the break. Freshman Luguentz Dort led the Sun Devils with 22 points.
Arizona State improved to 19-8, 10-5, and moved into sole possession of second place in the Pac-12 by sweeping their final, two home games against the Bay Area schools. They play their final three games heading into the conference tournament on the road.
Cal gained a measure of respect by being ready to play from the start and executing a defensive gameplan that gave ASU fits early. But the Bears shot just 33 percent after the break, and never got anything easy with just two fast break points, and eight second-chance points.
The Bears lost for the 16th consecutive time, and now only have three opportunities to avoid a winless, Pac-12 conference season. The Bears host first place Washington on Thursday, and close out with Washington State at home and Stanford on the road.