Second Half Run Dooms Sun Devils in Loss

Basketball is a game of runs. On Thursday night, ASU saw the best and the worst of that statement. The Devils opened the second half with an 18-5 run, just to see it evaporate with an 18-2 run by the Bruins. Eventually ASU's aspirations for an upset over UCLA didn't materialize as they fell at home 67-61.

"Our team once again played some very good basketball," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Obviously after taking a ten-point lead it evaporated almost instantly. You really have to credit (Arron) Afflalo and (Nick) Collison. Those guys made some all-conference caliber plays. We didn't have an answer for their excellence."

UCLA (22-3, 11-2) got its first six points of the game from an unlikely source – Lorenzo Mata. Arizona State stood toe-to-toe with the visitors from Westwood, and had a modest 21-17 edge at the 10:10 minute mark following a three-point play by Jeff Pendergraph. With 5:14 left the maroon and gold held a 25-23 lead, but scored just six more points until halftime. UCLA overcame their slim deficit and went down to the locker room leading 34-31.

Continuing a popular trend this season, ASU came out blazing in the second half. In fact, in the first nine minutes of that period, they may have played their best basketball to date. The home team jumped to a 49-39 lead at the 11:00 minute and thoughts of a first Pac-10 win were starting to be seriously entertained. The aforementioned run by UCLA, fueled mainly by Afflalo and Collison squashed those aspirations, as the Devils' scoring drought lasted 10:14 minutes. Three-point baskets by Christian Polk and Serge Angounou in the last 45 seconds of the game brought ASU within two points. Alas, eight straight made free throws by the Bruins during that same time span ensured them a hard fought victory in Tempe.

"We were doing well…executing on offense," Pendergraph commented. "During that stretch (i.e. ASU run) they grabbed almost every offensive rebound, and we can't let teams do that of we want to win. They capitalized on that."

Pendergraph was the high scorer for ASU with 14. Allen Morill with 11 and Jerren Ship with ten were the only other Sun Devils in double digit scoring. The maroon and gold lost the rebound battle 33-28, and allowed 16 offensive boards that were costly in the second half. Arron Afflalo paced all players on the floor with 24 points.

Next up for ASU is a rare Sunday evening game, as they host USC who beat Arizona on the road 80-75.

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