Arizona State Basketball fell to Villanova in the finals of the 2K Empire Classic on Thursday Night.
Arizona State Basketball encountered a much more difficult opponent Thursday night than the Rhode Island team they defeated 94-88 in the first round of the 2K Empire Classic. Despite a 28 point performance by freshman guard Josh Christopher, the Sun Devils fell to No.3 ranked Villanova Basketball.
Despite losing the game, Coach Bobby Hurley did gain knowledge about his team that, if built upon, will facilitate the Sun Devils’ ascension up the AP Poll from their current No.18 ranking. Sun Devils guard Alonzo Verge Jr opened the scoring with a layup twenty-one seconds into the game and the score would stay within one possession until a Caleb Daniels jumper put Villanova up 16-12 with 14:55 to go in the first half.
Villanova would continue to lead with just under10 minutes in the half by a 23-21 mark as Arizona State connected on just one of six attempts from beyond the arc and would end the half making two of thirteen. The 6:29 mark is a microcosm of the half in itself as Christopher was the sole Sun Devil to score from outside the paint. After a Remy Martin layup with 3:36, the Sun Devils would score just one point to go into the locker room down 41-32.
The Sun Devils would open the half in a much better fashion than they ended the previous one. With less than a minute off the clock, Marcus Bagley connected on a three-pointer to make the score 41-38. That would be the closest they would get. By15:51, the Wildcats were up 49-40 and would go on to win the 2K Empire Classic by a score of 83-74. The second-place finish is not as important as what Coach Hurley learned about his team early in the season.