Bruins Drub Devils

The UCLA-ASU contest was the proverbial must-win game for both programs attempting to qualify for the NCAA post-season tournament. Judging by the UCLA 95-76 win it was quite clear which team was ready to pursue that lofty goal, and which continued to wallow in mediocrity.

Serge Angounou scored a quick six points to put the Sun Devils (16-8, 5-7) ahead 11-8 at the 15:10 mark of the first half. At that point the Bruins' (13-7, 7-5) Dijon Thompson scored all of his team's eight points, and he was far from over. Steve Moore, who was benched because of his scoring slump, was back in his hometown with a blazing shot to boot. His three straight long-range baskets tied the game at 25 apiece with 7:10 left in the first half. However, that's as close as ASU would come to winning on Thursday night. The frustrating and all too familiar late first half meltdown by the Sun Devils let the Bruins take control of the game for good. Another eight points by Thompson in the closing moments of the first period, which were part of his 27-point effort in the first twenty minutes, help rally a 21-7 UCLA run to end the half at 46-32.

The second stanza saw the home team lead comfortably, usually in double digits. Ten points by Jordan Farmar answer a flurry of threes by the visitors and kept UCLA on top 63-51 at the 11:30 mark of the second half. Thompson heats up again behind the arc and pushes the lead to 75-58 with 8:20 left in the game. Moore continued raining threes, but all his team could do is just virtually trade baskets until the final buzzer sounded.

Moore regained his stroke to say the least, as he paced ASU with a career high 31 points, and a personal best eight three pointers on only 11 attempts. Ike Diogu was the only other maroon and gold player in double figures with 20, but 10 of those points came from the free throw line. The junior also had a game high seven rebounds. The Devils tied the Bruins in rebounds at 26, but their 41.4% shooting from the field paled in comparison to the home team's sizzling 60.4%. ASU's 17 turnovers only made matters worse tonight at Pauley Pavilion. Thompson scored a game high 39 points.

On Saturday, ASU will try to salvage this Southern California road trip as they visit UCLA's archrivals USC. The Trojans who won only two games in the conference, the first one being in Tempe, will try to shake off a blowout loss themselves, handed to them tonight by Arizona. With each loss ASU's chances at the big dance take another severe blow. A defeat to USC may just be the final knockout.

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