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Arizona State Falls Short to San Diego State in First Road Test

The Arizona State Sun Devils failed their first road test, despite playing their best game of the season.

Talk of the Arizona State Sun Devils playing in close, tough games during the early stages of the season again manifested itself on Thursday night.

It was a sellout at Viejas Arena to welcome Arizona State on its first road test of the season. The Sun Devils welcomed guard Luther Muhammad back from a one-game suspension for violating a team policy, although the team was without forward Marcus Bagley due to knee issues. 

Starters

G DJ Horne
G Luther Muhammad
G Marreon Jackson
F Jalen Graham
F Kimani Lawrence

First-Half Recap

The Sun Devils again started off slowly, this time thanks to four quick turnovers leading to a 9-2 lead for San Diego State. 

However, Arizona State eventually battled back, trailing 16-13 at the under-12 media timeout thanks to Lawrence shooting 4-for-4 for eight points and three rebounds to begin the night. 

The Sun Devils took their first lead of the evening 25-24 thanks to a Jackson steal and eventual layup on a fast break with 5:23 left in the first half. Arizona State then had a 3:30 scoring draught, although the Sun Devils benefitted from SDSU going 1-for-6 during that time prior to not scoring in the final 3:05 of the first half. 

Jackson hit a three with two seconds left as the Sun Devils entered halftime up 30-28. 

Tempo and running the floor was a big point of emphasis from Arizona State's coaching staff throughout the game, and that was evident by their fast-break opportunities, as the Sun Devils outscored the Aztecs 7-2 in that category during the first half. 

Second-Half Recap

This time, it was Arizona State that got out to a strong start, expanding the lead to nine points to begin the second period of play. However, San Diego State eventually battled back to take a 41-39 lead five minutes into the second half. 

Lawrence eventually grabbed a double-double in the second half, prompting a four-point lead for Arizona State, 46-42. 

The two teams struggled to find any rhythm with around 10 minutes remaining, going a combined 1-for-11 from the floor. It was truly a second half of runs, as Arizona State and San Diego State made small runs of six, seven and 10 points 

After a SDSU three-pointer at the 16:32 mark, neither team took a lead larger than four points

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San Diego State climbed back and took a 55-54 lead after a quick three-pointer and layup on the following possession, forcing a visibly irritated Bobby Hurley to call a timeout with 6:10 remaining. 

Jackson answered with a deep three-pointer for Arizona State to regain the lead out of the timeout, marking the ninth time in the second half where the game saw either a tie or lead change. 

The game went down to its final moments, tied 59-59 with 3:06 left. 

Graham accumulated his fourth foul at that time, effectively hitting the bench and leaving the Sun Devils down some size on the wings with Bagley already out. Horne eventually joined him soon after.

Jackson, who scored 11 points at the half, followed up his own miss by grabbing the rebound and hitting a jump shot to take a 63-61 lead with 1:30 left to play. 

Graham re-entered the game and managed to miss both free-throw attempts given with 1:20 left after getting a foul called in his favor on the defensive end of the floor. SDSU hit a floater on the next possession, taking a 64-63 lead and forcing Hurley to call his last timeout of the game.

The Sun Devils missed a driving floater, yet Jackson stole the ball and reset possession for Arizona State before the officials were took a timeout to take a look at a shot-clock error.

Hurley quickly drew up a play for Arizona State, and after a few misses from beyond the arc from Horne and Jackson, a jump ball was given to San Diego State with a one -point lead and 11.3 seconds remaining. 

The Aztecs went to the line after being fouled with 8.7 seconds left, missing one of two free throws and eventually setting up a wide open Jamiya Neal three-point shot to win the game.

Neal air-balled the shot to end the game, wrapping up perhaps Arizona State's best performance of the season despite dropping to 2-2 on the year. 

Final score: San Diego State 65, Arizona State 63

What's Next

Arizona State has a break in action, as the team's next game will be in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 24 against No. 8-ranked Baylor.