Devils' comeback falls short in L.A.

Everyone at Pauley Pavilion knew that UCLA wouldn't duplicate their first half 83 percent field goal shooting in the second stanza. Nonetheless, the Bruins who led by as many as 16 points did just enough to hold off a furious Arizona State rally and edged the Sun Devils 72-70 on Thursday afternoon to win their Pac-10 opener.

Arizona State (10-4, 0-1 Pac-10) actually started the game well and behind the hot shooting Rihards Kuksiks held a 14-9 advantage at the 15:19 mark of the first half. Unfortunately, UCLA (6-7, 1-0) had their own sharpshooter in Nikola Dragovic whose 18 first half points gave the host the lead for good. The Bruins were 8 of 10 beyond the arc in the first twenty minutes and took a comfortable 42-31 lead into the locker room.

The Sun Devils were held scoreless for the first 3:20 minutes of the second half, which helped UCLA build a 47-31 lead. While Kuksiks was held scoreless, Demetrius Walker came off the bench to score seven points and along with contributions from fellow freshmen reserves Trent Lockett and Victor Rudd, coupled with Ty Abbott started to chip away at the Bruins' lead.

Eric Boateng's field goal made it a 60-59 game with 4:29 left. UCLA expanded their lead to 68-61 with 1:18 left. Derek Glasser scored seven points in the final 1:03 minutes of the game and with two missed free throws by Reaves Nelson the visitors were down 72-70 with 16 seconds left. Jerren Shipp's three-point field goal attempt was blocked by Jerime Anderson and crushed any hopes ASU had for a precious road win.

Kuksiks paced ASU with 15 points, while Glasser and Abbott had 12 points each. Dragovic had a career-high 23 points for UCLA and played the last 11:25 minutes with four fouls. The Bruins shot at a 59.5 percent clip from the field and were 11-18 from beyond the arc, with eight of those baskets coming in the first half. ASU shot 44.6 percent from the field.

The Sun Devils will desperately seek to earn a split on this Los Angeles road trip as they face the USC Trojans on Saturday night. Tip-off will be at 8:30 pm MT.

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