Arizona State is 4-7 overall and 1-4 in the Pac-12 after the Sun Devils were a preseason favorite to win the conference title with senior captain point guard Remy Martin as the catalyst.
They will try once again to right themselves against rival Arizona (11-3, 5-3 Pac-12) in Tucson, Ariz., on Monday after losing 84-82 on Thursday to the visiting Wildcats on Azuolas Tubelis' tip-in at the buzzer.
The Sun Devils' season has been disjointed with four postponements and a cancellation because of COVID-19. Martin missed the weekend Arizona State lost at home to UCLA and Southern California earlier this month due to a death in his family.
Despite that, some fans and media are in such an uproar that The Arizona Republic published a story about ASU coach Bobby Hurley potentially being on the hot seat after the loss to Arizona.
Hurley was reprimanded by the Pac-12 after criticizing the officials to reporters about the non-call when Martin drove to the basket and was confronted by Tubelis, who Hurley claimed fouled Martin on the arm during his failed shot. Six seconds later, Tubelis tipped in James Akinjo's airball from 3-point range at the buzzer.
"I thought we deserved to win the basketball game," Hurley said. "I thought that Remy Martin, after watching it live and then watching it again on film after, clearly was fouled by a player in the restricted area."
Martin tops Arizona State with 16.7 points per game, followed by fJosh Christopher at 16.6 and Alonzo Verge Jr. at 15.4. Marcus Bagley is averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.
Arizona played its second game without injured guard Jemarl Baker Jr., out the rest of the season with a broken wrist. Akinjo has picked up the scoring slack of Baker, who averaged 12.0 points a game. Akinjo, a Georgetown transfer, scored 24 points against Arizona State and leads the Wildcats with 14.2 points per game.
Arizona allowed an 11-point, first-half lead to dissipate but rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 3:37 by not allowing the Sun Devils to score in the last 2:22.
"We'll get ready to play them again," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "They're a tough team to play against. The team that we played tonight was their full allotment or as close to it as they've had.
"In fairness, ASU, they've really dealt with COVID, injuries and a lot of situations that aren't going to allow them to be successful."
--Field Level Media