The Arizona State Sun Devils went into the Pac-12 Conference Tournament losers of four straight, but they gave their fans some hope on Thursday. After derailing the Stanford Cardinal in the opening round, the team was up on the UCLA Bruins with a 13 point lead in the second half.
Unfortunately, they let the Bruins inch their way back with Shabazz Muhammad stealing the show and a victory away from the Sun Devils in a must-win game. This game is in the books, however Sun Devils fans aren’t going to forget this missed opportunity for a long time. The program still has some hope as the NCAA committee could have Arizona State penciled into the National Tournament come selection Sunday.
If I were on the committee, my vote would be a stern no for a Sun Devils team that has played awful basketball in the last month with a 4-7 record since the month of February began–teams riding a skid like this should be avoided for certain.
With a victory against a top-tier team like UCLA things would’ve been different, but the loss on Thursday gives them a 9-9 Pac-12 record during the 2013 season. Since the Sun Devils defeated the Bruins on January 26th it has been all downhill for this squad, but Jahii Carson is a freshman who the program can build around in the coming seasons.
Carson set a Pac-12 tournament record amongst freshmen scoring 34 points with five coming in overtime in the crucial win over Stanford. His ability to get to the lane is what will change the Sun Devils’ fate moving forward.