A team looking to put two halves together meets another squad that's successfully put a roster back together when Arizona State hosts California in a Pac-12 game Thursday night in Tempe, Ariz.
The game pits the bottom two teams in the conference standings against one another, with Cal (7-10, 2-8) one win ahead of Arizona State (4-8, 1-5).
The Sun Devils will be playing their second game of the week as they attempt to navigate a COVID-19-impacted schedule that will see them -- short of more health issues -- contesting 11 games in the final five weeks of the Pac-12 regular season.
Arizona State has lost six in a row dating back to a Dec. 16 nonconference game vs. UTEP. Their last win was a nonconference matchup at Grand Canyon on Dec. 13, and their only conference win came 10 days before that at Cal, 70-62.
Remy Martin led the way against the Golden Bears with 22 points, hitting eight of his 11 shots. The Sun Devils outshot Cal 50 percent to 40 percent that day.
Arizona State came on strong in the second half in Berkeley, Calif., something they have done in several outings this season. The Sun Devils outscored rival Arizona by a total of 101-89 in the second halves of their just completed home-and-home series, but they came up short both times after trailing by a total of 27 points at halftime.
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley loves the fight, if not the finish.
"I've got to do a better job of getting us ready to play early in the game," Hurley said in the wake of Monday's 80-67 loss at Arizona. "I commend our effort in the second half, but the cabinet is filled with moral victories, so I'm not really that enthusiastic."
Martin had 24 points in Monday's loss. He has scored 20 or more four times in his 10 games.
Cal's Matt Bradley has gone for at least 20 in five of his 10 games, including a team-high 20 in the earlier home loss to Arizona State.
He returned from a five-game absence due to an ankle injury to contribute 11 points off the bench in Cal's 76-68 loss to Southern Cal on Saturday. But most important, he finished the game pain-free, giving the Golden Bears their first full healthy roster of the season.
Cal coach Mark Fox doesn't think it's too late to start fresh 17 games into the season.
"It's the first time we've had everybody since, like, (preseason workouts in) October," he observed. "Now we have to see if we can develop some continuity within our offense, our rotation. But we have some depth now.
"I do think now going forward hopefully we can start to build on the team we thought we would have had back in November. So yes, I am encouraged with that."
Cal has lost two straight, but the Golden Bears did win their most recent Pac-12 road game 72-63 at Utah on Jan. 16.
--Field Level Media