ASU's NCAA Run Ends in Trouncing Fashion

The NCAA tournament is a place filled with hopes and dreams. Following an improbable win against Memphis, the Sun Devils we're aiming for an even more implausible victory over powerhouse Kansas. However, the big dance is also filled with shattered dreams, which unfortunately were destined tonight for the maroon and gold. The Jayhawks sent ASU packing as they rolled to a 108-76 win.

Ever since the opening tip, it was quite evident that Kansas was on a mission to erase any doubts after their disappointing and narrow victory over Utah State. Regrettably, ASU was the team that ran into this buzz saw and was never able to be a worthy opponent on Saturday night. At the 14:29 mark the Jayhawks' lead had already reached double digits to the tune of 14-4, a margin that was in effect for the rest of the game. A frigid shooting night for the Devils only made matters worse as Kansas worked on increasing their lead. For the last ten minutes of the half ASU was able to trade baskets with Kansas, and ended the half down 47-31.

In the opening minutes of the half the good news was that the Jayhawks weren't able to increase the lead. The bad news was that the Sun Devils did nothing to chip away at that margin. Therefore, Kansas led 58-41 at the 15:15 mark. However, things changed in a hurry as the red-hot shooting Jayhawks, who at one point made 14 baskets in a row, went on 19-9 run to lead 77-50 with 11:00 minutes left in the half. Both teams continued to be at the opposite sides on the shooting spectrum, and another Kansas run (21-10) had them enjoying their biggest lead of the game 98-60 with 4:15 left. From that moment on both teams called off the dogs, and let seldom played reserves partake in the NCAA tournament experience.

Jason Braxton followed up one of his best games of the year, to be the unlikely ASU leader in scoring with 17. Ike Diogu scored 10 points in the first half, but finished with only 13 points. Tommy Smith was the only other ASU player in double digits with 13 points as well. As expected in such a one sided game, Kansas dominated the stat sheet. The Jayhawks scorched the Devils making good on 67.8% of their shots, as opposed to ASU's 46%. They also controlled the glass 34-28.

"What have you done for me lately?" is the most popular battle cry in sports. Thus, the resounding defeat, which Rob Evans' team experienced tonight, has the potential to erase some of the remarkable achievements of the 2002-03 season. Nevertheless, every ASU fan should forget about the bitter loss tonight, and look at the proverbial "big picture" and the future of this program. This Sun Devil team has brought back excitement to the valley – a notion not experienced since 1995. The ASU coaching staff has done a remarkable job rebuilding a program characterized not only by talented players, but also solid citizens. And with this foundation in place, along with some exciting additions coming in, it will be time to have high aspirations all over again. If all goes according to plan, there will be many more dreams fulfilled than shattered next season.

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