As is the story with many ASU hoops games this year, today's contest was a tale of two different halves. In the first half, UCLA played good basketball and the Devils struggled a bit to carry over their intensity from Thursday night's blowout of USC.
The Bruins got balanced scoring in the first half, with five players contributing between 5 and 8 points to their half time point total of 39. Jason Kapono led the way with eight points while Cedric Bozeman and Ryan Hollins each had seven. Hollins points were especially important because he had two big dunks that stemmed any momentum the Devils could get at the during the last few minutes of the first half.
UCLA shot 54% from the field in the opening stanza, including a 5 of 7 mark from 3-point land. The last of the five long range bombs in the first half came just before the buzzer sounded, as Ryan Walcott converted a Kyle Dodd turnover into a four point Bruin lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
During the halftime intermission, the Devils regrouped and came out with much more focus in the second half. Donnell Knight got the Devils within one on their first possession of the second half by scoring on a traditional three point play.
For the next few minutes, the teams traded shots and the lead changed constantly. It was not until ASU went on a 12-0 run mid way through the second half that one team took control of the game. After the run, the Bruins never got closer than 6. The highlights of the run were a lob to Tommy Smith on which he was fouled while making the basket. Smith missed the free throw, but "Charlie Hustle," a.k.a. Shawn Redhage, grabbed the rebound and found Curtis Millage for a wide-open 3-point shot. Millage went for back-to-back 3s on the ensuing play. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read ASU 86, UCLA 69. The Devils had outscored the Bruins 50 to 30 in the second half.
Despite five players with strong scoring contributions in the first half, only Jason Kapono ended the game with double figure scoring for UCLA (21 points). Conversely, four Sun Devils ended with double figures: Ike Diogu (26), Curtis Millage (22), Tommy Smith (16), and Kyle Dodd (12). Dodd's points were especially important because Jason Braxton went to the bench early with foul trouble. Dodd's aggressiveness on both ends of the floor really gave the Devils a lift.
Now the focus shifts to next weekend's match up with the #1 ranked Arizona Wildcats. Both teams are coming in riding winning streaks and Wells Fargo Arena is already sold out. It should be a great time!
Sparky's Sundries: Dan Majerle was at the game today, along with Suns Tom Gugliotta and Randy Brown…Coach Koetter and family were also in attendance…Coach Kush was also seen at Wells Fargo Arena…this is only the second time that ASU has swept UCLA in a season…ASU's three straight victories over UCLA has also only been done once before…the student section's best cheer of the night was directed at UCLA coach Steve Lavin, "jobs.com"…standing room only seats will be available for the game against UofA starting February 18th at 9am…"Superfan" Phil Root did a little crowd surfing as he was passed up the student section at one point in the second half.
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