Devils Still Searching for First Pac-10 Win

6-6 Overall record. 0-3 Pac-10 record. Does it get any worse than this for ASU basketball? In less than 48 hours after an inspiring performance against unbeaten Stanford, the Sun Devils inexplicitly show no effort as they drop a 74-62 decision to Cal.

The home team looked lifeless early in the first half, as Cal's Marquise Katley helps the visitors gain a 12-6 edge at the 14:55 mark. Jason Braxton, who played only 11 minutes, is substituted early in the contest, and two free throws by his replacement Kevin Kruger keep matters close as the visitors lead 18-14 with 11:48 left in the first half. Katley goes on another scoring binge, but Cal isn't able to shake off ASU, as they hold a 26-20 lead at the 7:33 mark. That as close as the Devils would get to the Bears for the rest of the night. A 16-6 run put Cal up 42-26 at halftime.

In the beginning of the second half things went from bad to worse. Amit Tamir's basket makes it a 20-point game, 46-26, at the 18:05 mark. The Sun Devils actually score their first point of this period with 15:05 left in the game on an Ike Diogu free throw. At the 11:25 mark the score was 52-38, and ASU had only scored two field goals. However, for the next several minutes Rob Evans' team tried to mount a comeback. Six straight points by Diogu bring ASU within eight points 61-53 with 3:32 remaining in the contest. However, the Bears' Leon Powe scores eight of his sixteen points in the waning moments of the game to give Cal a bit more breathing room as they prevail over ASU.

Ike Diogu played all 40 minutes, and led all scorers with 31 points (15-17 from the line) and 13 boards. Stevie Moore was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with ten. ASU shot a miserable 30.9 % from the field, while Cal converted 50%. The Devils tied the Bears in rebounds with 36 a piece. Katley paced the visitors with 17 points.

"It was a basketball team tonight that didn't give the effort that you got to have to win on this level," commented Evans following the game. "They were just absolutely effortless. They're doing things in games that we're not seeing in practice. I'd like to hide behind something else, but there's nothing to hide behind. I'm frustrated. I tried every combination you could try. It's hard to help guys when there's no effort. It's my job to make sure that they give effort."

"We got to find the right people," Evans continued. "We need to find the people that will battle when things aren't going well. We have some people that are front runners, and we got to move those people forward."

Evans wasn't looking for any excuses or scapegoats for his team's loss. "I accept reasonability for everything," he remarked. "It's my job to do that. How I could do it tonight? I don't know. But it's my job that we make sure that we get it done. I don't run from anything." He added that the youth of the team couldn't be blamed for tonight's loss "Little league teams can play hard."

As mentioned, Braxton's playing time was limited tonight as Kevin Kruger tallied 29 minutes. "I didn't like the effort I was getting from anyone else at that position," explained Evans. "Leadership starts at the point guard. If you don't have great leadership from the point guard, you won't win many basketball games.

Following the close loss to the Cardinal, there was a sense of renewed hope in ASU. The loss to Cal and the manner in which it happened may drive the few remaining optimistic Sun Devil fans to despair. This coming week Rob Evans' team takes their first road conference trip, visiting UCLA and USC. Post-season aspirations are becoming more improbable by the game. Now all that is left for ASU is to salvage their pride. Some may wonder if the team is even capable of that task…

Sparky's Sundries Where was the student section tonight? After packing it against Arizona and Stanford, this section was more than half empty. It would be nice to see Phil Root, aka "Superfan", switch his seats and get down in the "pit" in his usual seat…if you've never experienced a Hockey game, just take a look at Cal. Both the NHL and the Bears have the same substitution patterns. Out of ten Golden Bears players who participated tonight, nine were in double figures when it came to minutes played… We still haven't figured out which lineup was the proverbial "bruiser line"…Hard to think of many highlights in the second half that topped DevilsDigest's own Big E on the video board at with 13:42 left in the game. He was one of the few that didn't exit the arena before the final whistle blew…

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