Hurley-era starts with disappointing 66-63 loss to Sacramento State

In ASU's first regular season game of the Bobby Hurley era, the Sun Devils faltered in both their offensive and defensive productivity in a loss Hurley called "embarrassing."

As Arizona State senior guard Gerry Blakes' contested three-pointer rimmed out and the final buzzer sounded at Wells Fargo Arena, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley put his head down and walked in silence as he headed towards the Sacramento State bench. 

Staying mum as he shook each of the players' hands before heading off to ASU's locker room, Hurley's demeanor was a stark contrast to a mere six minutes earlier when the Sun Devils had a 55-47 lead and ASU's first-year coach was going toe to toe with one of the referees over a technical foul call. 

But as Hurley headed off after the game to address his players after his first regular season game as the Sun Devils' head coach turned into his first loss with the program, Hurley's animated energy was no more.

Losing 66-63 to Sacramento State in front of 5,275 fans at Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils gave up a 10-point second-half lead and were plagued with offensive shooting woes and sloppy mistakes on both sides of the court. 

"It was not the way I wanted to start things here for sure," Hurley said in his post-game press conference. "It was an embarrassing loss for us. We have to execute better. We have to play better." 

Down three points with 24.5 seconds left in the game, the Sun Devils had a chance to tie or at least cut the Hornet's 66-63 lead down to two points, but after ASU senior point guard Tra Holder was unable to find an open man or an open shot, ASU was forced to call a timeout and in ASU's ensuing possession with 8.7 seconds left on the clock, Blakes ended up with the ball, but took a contested three-pointer that ultimately didn't fall in.

"We were looking on the weak-side for a pin down for (junior guard) Andre (Spight)," Hurley said of the last play call. "In a situation where we need a three-point shot, we look to get the ball to Tra and (senior center) Eric (Jacobsen) is our best screener and we wanted to see if we could try to free up Andre on the right wing for the shot."

But while Hurley's last play call wasn't executed to a tee, the Sun Devils arguably shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. ASU shot itself in the foot with missed opportunities on offense that stemmed from the very beginning of the game. 

Down 23-29 to the Hornets at halftime, the Sun Devils had a 6:07 scoreless drought in the first half while Sacramento State went on a 11-0 run over a 3:36 span. And while ASU broke its six-minute scoring drought off senior forward Savon Goodman's free throw with 1:23 left in the first half, the Sun Devils were unable to regain any control heading into the locker room.

Goodman, who is one of ASU's four returning starters, has been battling a stress reaction in his foot and played 21 minutes in total coming off the bench.

"Savon, anytime you sit for a few weeks, you lose everything that you've kind of built up so just having him for a few practices, yes he's going to be able to play, just not at the level that you're supposed to be capable of," Hurley said. 

Shooting 10 of 28 from the field in the first half, the Sun Devils were also 0 of 8 from the three-point line and 3 of 8 from the free throw line in the first half. On the night, ASU shot 41.8 percent from the field off 23 of 55 shooting and only made two three-pointers in the game -- both coming in the second half and neither when it really needed it the most. 

"I'd like to say that our defense was awful, but I don't think that was the problem tonight," Hurley said. "Obviously they scored too many times in the last two minutes and they were able to make big shots, but I thought our issues were more on the offensive end. Like I said not being able to catch the ball sometimes, just some decision-making things on offense with our turnovers."  

The Hornets' ended the game six of 10 shooting from the field, while the Sun Devils were 3 of 10 and had two turnovers in the game's final four minutes. Sacramento State guard Cody Demps led the Hornets with 22 points including the go-ahead three-pointer to put the Hornets ahead 62-60 with 1:27 left in the game. The Hornets were 13 of 25 from the field in the second half and made 4 out of 9 three-pointers. 

"We've got to be able to put teams away," Jacobsen said. "We let them hang around and they got too comfortable and when you do that guys are going to make shots. We just got too stagnant and we didn't look to attack enough and when teams are going like that we got to pick them apart."

Jacobsen, who Hurley said he's been impressed with through preseason practices, had a relatively quiet night for the Sun Devils, scoring 12 points and grabbing down four rebounds. Holder led ASU in scoring on the night with 17 points off 4 of 11 shooting from the field and was 1 of 4 from downtown. Blakes finished with 13 points off 6 of 13 shooting from the field and was 0 of 4 from three-point range on the night. 

On the boards, ASU was out-rebounded 41-34 in the game with ASU senior forward Willie Atwood accounting for 11 of them. 

“We got killed on the boards, and that can’t happen no matter who we’re playing,” Jacobsen said.

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