Early Devil Domination Secures Win Against UCLA

It may not have been poetry in motion, but it was history in the making. A blazing start by the Sun Devils, who enjoyed an 18-point halftime advantage, was nearly negated when their lead nearly vanished in the waning moments of the game. The Sun Devils' 75-64 win was ASU's first ever back-to-back road wins in Westwood, which followed 15 straight losses at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA got off to a rather ominous start with forward/center T.J Cummings picking up 3 quick fouls in the first several minutes of play. His replacement, Ryan Hollins came into the game only to collect 2 quick fouls of his own and the Devils raced to an early double-digit advantage. ASU's quick start was keyed by tenacious man to man defense that featured Donnell Knight blanketing Jason Kapono and not allowing the start shooting specialist any room to maneuver.

Soon, the Bruins had abandoned their man-to-man defense in favor of a 1-3-1 zone designed to stop Ike Diogu. For the bulk of the first half, the zone was relatively effective, with UCLA having a man constantly in front and behind Diogu. But even with ASU's best player limited offensively the Devils maintained and even widened the late first half lead due in large part to the impressive shooting display of Curtis Millage. The shooting guard was unstoppable on Thursday night, making shot after shot from mid-range, either off crisp ball rotation or off the dribble. The Devils also dominated the defense glass in the first half, preventing UCLA from the second chance opportunities that they so heavily depend on.

In the opening few minutes of the second half, the Devils pushed the lead to 20 points and maintained a 14-20 point advantage until the Bruins began to really present the full court press. ASU struggled with the press primarily in terms of inbounding the basketball. Neither Donnell Knight nor Jamal Hill had any real success and the Devils couldn't figure it out despite several timeouts called by the coaches. What made matters even worse was the inability to hit free throws, particularly during a 5 minutes span midway through the second half which saw the Devils miss 6 fouls shots in a row by Diogu, Tommy Smith and Curtis Millage.

Eventually the Devils brought in Kyle Dodd to handle the press break and finally had some success including two times in which the Devils beat UCLA down the court leading to ferocious slam dunks by Ike Diogu to keep the Bruins at bay. The game was finally iced with less than two minutes to play as Dijon Thompson fouled Curtis Millage on a three-point attempt and Millage was able to convert on all three foul shot attempts, leaving the UCLA faithful streaming for the exits.

Millage was the game's MVP has he led the way for the Devils with 23 points on just 12 shot attempts from the field. Tommy Smith turned in another excellent multi-dimensional game that saw him achieve a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, plus 6 assists against only 2 turnovers. Jason Braxton had a very solid first half, breaking down the Bruin defense and hitting several open looks with the Bruin defense sagging off him, including a 3 pointer from the wing. However, he had a rough time converting on drives to the hoops and struggled at the line missing all three of his foul attempts. Ike Diogu had a relatively quiet yet efficient night pouring in 16 points on 7-9 shooting from the floor. His presence alone creates opportunities for his teammates that simply haven't been there in years past.

Up next for Rob Evans' team is a match up with USC on Saturday night. A win against the Trojans will mark the first time since 1980 that an ASU team has swept the Los Angeles schools on the road. Time for another historic win…?

Game Notes:

The UCLA fans cheered the loudest during a halftime youth basketball contest between teams dubbed the "Bruins" and the "Lakers." That was at least one game the "Bruins" won.

Things have gotten so bad in Westwood that fans were seen wearing brown paper bags over their heads so as not to reveal their identity. This coupled with the "Lose Lavin" T-shirts and the constant catcalls don't make for a particularly inviting experience for the home coach.

The ASU fan section in the South end of the Pavilion was small, with only approximately 100 fans and family members but extremely boisterous.

Brandon Goldman apparently broke a thumb on his hand and will be out of action for a while. Perhaps the ASU student section will have to take on a chant of "We want Dewy" instead.

Rob Evans has really shortened his bench in preparation for the stretch run. Players like Justin Allen, Kenny Crandall and Chris Osborne may not see much time from this point on.

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