15 Year Pauley Frustration Streak Ends

The Sun Devils (14-10, 7-8) looked like they were primed to get blown out by UCLA this afternoon. After all, they did not put up much of a fight Thursday night against USC. Additionally, UCLA was coming off a big win over the Wildcats. Finally, the game was being televised on ABC. All of those factors pointed to a UCLA team that would be motivated to come out and make a statement on ABC by punishing the Devils for 40 minutes.

That did not happen. Instead, ASU ended a losing streak at Pauley Pavilion that spanned since 1987, winning a thriller 69-68 in front of 9,823 disappointed Bruin fans.

The game did not start off well for the Devils. They fell behind by 7 almost immediately after the opening tip. Instead of packing it in, however, ASU re-focused and whittled away at the UCLA lead. Despite shooting only 36.4% to the Bruins' 42.9%, the Sun Devils enjoyed a 36-31 lead at the halftime break. Neither team played especially well in the first half and it seemed the team that could re-group most efficiently during the intermission would get the win.

As the second half began, it looked like the Bruins may have grabbed the momentum. It took slightly over four minutes for UCLA to grab the lead at the 15:48 mark, 41-40, on a lay-in by Dan Gadzuric. During the next five minutes the game was back and forth, with neither team taking control. The score was tied at 51 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

After the 10-minute mark, the game was one of small runs by both clubs. The Sun Devils put together a 6-1 run to grab the lead, 57-52. The Bruins answered back with a 7-0 run of their own and took a 69-67 advantage with 6:45 remaining. ASU's Braxton and Millage then scored back-to-back buckets to put the Devils up by 2 points, but UCLA's Matt Barnes buried a three-pointer with 5:33 showing on the clock to regain the lead for the Bruin's.

Deja vu had to be striking many Devil fans as UCLA extended their lead to 66-63 with 3:35 left to go. This is the time of the game when the 2001-2002 Sun Devils usually fold on the road. We have seen in many times and it looked like it would happen again. ASU looked off balance on the offensive end of the floor and could not get a good look at the basket.

That is when Chad Prewitt scored the biggest of his game-high 22 points. Big Red's three-pointer from the right baseline over the out-stretched hand of a Bruin defender tied the game at 66 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

Both teams struggled offensively down the stretch. Curtis Millage's only three-point field goal of the game was the next score. The long-range bomb with 13.8 seconds left gave ASU a 69-66 advantage. On the ensuing possession, Matt Barnes nailed two free throws to make it a one-point game, with the Devils holding a precarious 69-68 lead. For once, ASU being at a foul disadvantage worked in the Devils' favor. UCLA had to foul four times before ASU was in the bonus and went to the line to shoot the one-and one.

Kyle Dodd was the Devil who ended up at the charity stripe with 2.3 seconds left to shoot the one-and-one. Unfortunately, Dodd missed the front end and Billy Knight of the Bruins snagged the errant rebound. As Knight turned to head down court, however, Curtis Millage streaked in front of him and caused him to travel with the basketball before he was able to dribble. The Sun Devils were only 1.0 seconds away from their second Pac 10 road victory.

ASU in-bounded the ball and ran out the clock. Coach Evans and the team went to the locker room with a 69-68 victory.

A few Devils made notable contributions in the win. Chad Prewitt added 8 rebounds to his 22 points, with 15 points from behind the arc on 5-5 shooting. Curtis Millage ended with 11 points, slightly below his season average, but his three-pointer at the end of the game proved to be the winning shot. Jason Braxton gave another strong performance and ended with 8 points, including another highlight-reel dunk over UCLA's Dan Gadzuric. Finally, Brad Nahra came off the bench with some strong minutes and ended with three points and four assists.

Overall, ASU was able to accomplish what it set out to do. They hung around for the entire game with strong defense, causing 18 UCLA turnovers while committing only 10. Additionally, the Devils kept Jason Kapono in check, holding him to a quiet 13 points for the afternoon.

This win should be a confidence booster for ASU as they travel to Tucson for a big game on Wednesday night. The Sun Devils have now proven they can win a big conference game on the road. Hopefully they will remember that when they face the Wildcats next week.

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