It was a month to forget for the Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball team as they ended the month with a 3-6 record.
To start off the month of January, the Sun Devils went on a three-game road trip. They first traveled to Tucson to take on in-state rival University of Arizona. The Devils stood no chance against the eighth ranked Wildcats at the time as they lost by score of 73 – 49.
ASU shot a dismal 32 percent from the field that night. The Devils defense was also nowhere to be found as they allowed three different Wildcats to score 13 points.
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Up next for ASU, they traveled up north to take on Oregon and Oregon State.
Against the Beavers of Oregon State, the Sun Devils trailed for most of the game, although they managed to keep it close for 95 percent of the game. That last five percent, ASU was forced to foul because time was not on their side as they were down 48- 43.
Unfortunately for the Devils, fouling did not work in their favor, to close out the game as the Beavers made seven out of eight for the charity strike to ultimately pull away. ASU would go onto lose this game as well, 55- 47.
The next two games for the Sun Devils would also end in losses to the Oregon Ducks in Eugene and to the Utes of Utah in Tempe. One of the problems’ for ASU in those games was too many attempts from the three-point line. In the two games combined, the team went 12-of-41 from three-point land, good for 29 percent.
Another difficultly the Devils had was in the foul department. ASU fouled the opposing teams 44 times in those two games, that causes even more problems when most of those fouls result in the other team shooting free throws. At this point, the team was 0-4 in both January and PAC-12 play.
The Sun Devils needed something to pick their spirits up and that might have come in the form of “ The Curtain of Distraction” a tactic by the 942 crew, (a group of passionate Sun Devils) that in the second half of home games, will often wear and do outrageous things to distract the opposing team at the free throw. “ The Curtain of Distraction” lit a spark on social media and even the worldwide leader in sports had a featured story on the 942 crew.
Something ignited the fuel in the engine for the Devils as the team got its first win of the month as they defeated Colorado at home 78-72. Shaquille McKissic would also put on a dunk fest for the crowd as he slammed in four. McKissic would also have one of this best games of the season with a stat stuffing night has he finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.
In their next game, the Devils went on the road to face Cal and had their best defense performance of the season as a team only allowed the Golden Bears to score 13 points in the first half. In the end, ASU would win 79 to 44. Cal would end up shooting an atrocious 15-of-45 from the field.
Just when it seemed things were looking up for ASU, head coach Herb Sendek suspended Guard Roosevelt Scott and Forward Connor MacDougall the day after defeating Cal, from the team for violating team rules, according to Doug Haller of AZ Central.
In their next game, the Sun Devils would go back to their losing ways and were defeated by Stanford 89-70. It seemed that ASU would continue to down spiral with the losing two key players but the Devils would pounce on the Beavers and roll to an easy victory 73-55 at home.
In their most recent game, ASU would lose a heart breaker to the Ducks of Oregon as the team had one final shot to win it overtime. However, Bo Barnes would miss a three-pointer from way beyond the arch as the Ducks would take it, 68-67. McKissic had a night to remember as he hit the go away three to send the game into overtime and would end up with 22 points, five rebounds and two steals.
Looking ahead to February, ASU will host Arizona on Feb. 7 in Tempe. After that game, the team will go on a road trip to Washington to take on both the Huskies and Cougars.