Devils Routed by Archrival, Drop Pac-10 Opener

The Arizona State game plan against Arizona boiled down to two main factors. Break the Wildcats' zone defense, and stop their trademark transition offense. Easier said than done. The visitors from Tucson never trailed this afternoon as they dominated the Sun Devils 93-74.

For most of the first half, the home team did an admirable job of hanging in with fourth ranked Arizona. With 14:42 left in the half, Ike Diogu and Jamal Hill scored all of the Devils' points, as ASU trailed 11-9. Steve Moore's back to back three pointers, doesn't allow the visitors to break the game open, and at the 11:40 mark of the first half Arizona maintained a narrow 20-19 lead. However, an 11-2 Wildcat run, fueled by Channing Frye, put the visitors' lead permanently in double digits 31-21 with 6:12 remaining in the first period. Salim Stoudamaire and Frye didn't let up, as the Sun Devils headed down to the locker trailing 46-30.

Things went from bad to worse in the second half. An Iguodala lay-up gave the visitors their first 20+ point margin, 53-32 at the 18:03 mark of the second half. Stoudamire scores two consecutive three pointers, and down 72-46 many Sun Devil fans head to the exits with 11:45 left in the game. A dunk by Frye makes it 81-50 at the 8:40 mark. Oddly enough, five minutes later Arizona's head coach Lute Olson, up 91-65, jaws at the referee and gets a technical foul. Consequently, Olson and the ASU crowd exchange pleasantries as the game dwindles down, sending the Sun Devils to a demoralizing defeat to start the Pac-10 season.

Stevie Moore led ASU with 23 points, but also paced the team in turnovers with five. Ike Diogu notched his third double-double with 18 points and a game high 11 boards. The sophomore also amassed five blocks. Jamal Hill was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with 15. Arizona State's three point percentage (41.7) was higher than their filed goal percentage (39.0). The Devils were once again sloppy with the ball (17 turnovers), but improved dramatically in their free throw percentage converting 18-23. Salim Stoudamire led the Wildcats with 26 points.

"I was really looking forward to this ball game," said Coach Evans in his post game press conference. "I thought our guys would come out and compete a little harder. We got out competed, especially in the last eight minutes of the first half. That's on me, and we'll take care of that."

The Devils inability in feeding Diogu the ball, once again hampered their offensive game. "He was open some," exclaimed Evans. "We just didn't get the basketball to him. We talked about it, worked on it, talked about it again during the game during timeouts. He's been working in there pretty good, and sometimes we brought him outside so we can get the basketball to him. We can't force to the basketball to him, but we have to give it to him when he's open, and he was open several times."

The Sun Devil skipper thought that the lack of patience, rather than lack of perimeter game hindered his team when playing Arizona's zone. Evans acknowledged that whatever the deficiencies may be, they need to be corrected in a hurry. "The team we play next (Stanford) is better than this team," he said. "We got to get prepared to play them. It's not gonna get easier in this league. I can deal with defeat, but it's tough for me to deal with the fact that we didn't play as hard as we need against good teams."

Whether an ASU win today was improbable, it is hard for the team and its fans to shake off the feelings of despair following today's contest. Coming off two consecutive losses, Coach Evans' team has to find a way to muster some wins in order to salvage the rest of the 2003-04 campaign. With a Stanford game looming large on Thursday, the Sun Devils face a test as tough, if not tougher, than the one they had today. If there ever was time to display resiliency…

Sparky's SundriesArizona was red hot from the field in the first half shooting at a 60.6% clip. In that same period, ASU was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line…While Dave Libbey has usually been ASU's worst nightmare in stripes, he and the officiating crew called a good and balanced game…Kudos to the boisterous student section that showed up in force despite the school's winter break…Congratulations to Lute Olson who today notched his 700th win. Unfortunately, that milestone wasn't accompanied by a show of class. In the waning moments of the game, Olson answered the taunts of the student section by repeatedly pointing to the scoreboard. He stated after the game that the ASU fans need to "learn to keep your mouth closed when you are down 30-something." While that may be true, it's time for this Hall of Fame coach to learn from fellow coaching greats such as Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino to conduct himself in dignity during victory and defeat.

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