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First-half miscues too much to overcome for CU Buffs men's basketball at Arizona State

Jan. 6—Fast break

Why the Buffs lost: CU committed 10 turnovers in the first half, leading to 20 points for the Sun Devils.

Three stars:

ASU's Jamiya Neal: Neal did a little bit of everything for ASU, recording a team-high 19 points along with seven rebounds, four steals, two assists and no turnovers.

CU's KJ Simpson: Simpson went 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and 4-for-5 at the free throw line, finishing with a game-high 23 points along with five rebounds and four assists.

CU's J'Vonne Hadley: Hadley went 6-for-7 from the floor and 6-for-6 on free throws, posting a CU career-high 19 points.

Up next: The Buffs will attempt to salvage at least one win on the three-game road trip when they visit California on Wednesday night (9 p.m. MT, ESPNU).

TEMPE, Ariz. — It was a football term head coach Tad Boyle used to describe exactly what did in his Colorado men's basketball team.

It was an apt analogy, however, after the Buffaloes fumbled away an opportunity to pick up a key road win.

CU welcomed back senior forward Tristan da Silva to the starting lineup, but his presence wasn't enough for the Buffs to salvage a split of the two-game swing through Arizona, as Arizona State took advantage of a mistake-prone CU club to hand the Buffs a 76-73 defeat in a Pac-12 Conference battle on Saturday night at Desert Financial Arena.

CU finished with 13 turnovers, which actually was a little under its season average. But 10 of those occurred in the first half, and the bulk of them were live-ball giveaways that led to easy layups and wide-open 3-pointers for the Sun Devils.

CU outshot ASU (.479-.439) and outrebounded the hosts (35-30), but the 20 points the Sun Devils amassed in the first half directly off the Buffs' turnovers proved too much to overcome.

"When you have 10 turnovers that lead to 20 points for Arizona State in the first half, you cut that in half and you're in good shape," Boyle said. "We call them pick-sixes. I know that's a football term, but the pick-sixes that go in for layups or wide-open threes, 20 points off 10 turnovers, that's not going to cut it against a team that was tied for first place.

"Now they're 4-0 (in the Pac-12) and we're 2-2. Had a chance to even it up, we didn't do it. Very disappointing, because it was a winnable game."

ASU and CU both finished the first half at 53%, but CU's miscues helped the Sun Devils build a 44-38 lead at halftime.

ASU converted the first bucket of the second half to push its lead to eight, but the Buffs chipped away and got within one point on a J'Vonne Hadley 3-pointer. ASU answered with seven consecutive points but CU reeled off a 13-3 run, capped by a da Silva 3-pointer, to tie the game at 66-66.

The game also was tied at 68-68 and 70-70, but ASU scored the next five points. A KJ Simpson 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left got CU within 75-73, and the Buffs still had a chance when ASU's Frankie Collins made just one free throw with 7 seconds left. ASU then fouled Simpson in the backcourt, but after he missed his free throw attempt, the rebound was batted around long enough for the final seconds to tick away.

"It's a common theme for the Colorado Buffaloes, just taking care of the ball," said Hadley, who finished with a CU career-high of 19 points. "Coach has said it multiple times throughout the year, and I'm sure he's said it in interviews. Just taking care of the ball, if we don't do it it's going come back to bite us, especially on the road. Playing in these environments, you can't turn the ball over. I'm sure they capitalized on most of our turnovers, and that came back to bite us in the end."

CU held ASU to a .333 shooting percentage in the second half, including a 2-for-10 mark on 3-pointers. But the wasted opportunities in the first half loomed large as ASU ended CU's three-game winning streak at Desert Financial Arena.

Simpson paced the Buffs with 23 points. Da Silva, who had missed the previous three games with a sprained ankle, finished with 17 points, three rebounds and three assists in his return.

The Buffs still played without freshman Cody Williams, who missed his seventh consecutive game due to a left wrist injury, and CU also played without junior guard Julian Hammond III as well. Hammond aggravated a back injury late in the first half of Thursday night's loss at Arizona and did not return.

"If we guard the 3-point line in the first half like we guarded it in the second half, we win the game," Boyle said. "If we take care of the ball in the first half like we took care of the ball in the second half, we win the game. You can look at turnovers, you can look at threes given up, as the two reasons, in my opinion, why we lost this game. That's it."

COLORADO (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12)

da Silva 6-14 3-4 17, Lampkin 2-4 4-6 8, Hadley 6-7 6-6 19, O'Brien 1-3 0-2 3, Simpson 8-17 4-5 23, Ruffin 0-2 2-2 2, Diop 0-1 1-2 1, Dak 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-48 20-27 73.

ARIZONA ST. (10-5, 4-0)

Gaffney 1-4 0-0 3, Collins 3-11 5-8 12, Miller 5-13 5-7 18, Perez 3-9 2-4 9, Neal 7-13 4-5 19, Selebangue 3-4 1-1 7, Lands 2-2 0-0 5, Phillips 1-1 1-2 3, Green 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-57 18-27 76.

Halftime — Arizona St. 44-38. 3-point field goals — Colorado 7-20 (Simpson 3-6, da Silva 2-8, Hadley 1-1, O'Brien 1-3, Ruffin 0-2), Arizona St. 8-22 (Miller 3-8, Lands 1-1, Gaffney 1-3, Neal 1-3, Perez 1-3, Collins 1-4). Rebounds — Colorado 35 (Lampkin 6), Arizona St. 30 (Neal 7). Assists — Colorado 11 (Simpson 4); Arizona St. 13 (Collins, Perez 4). Turnovers — Colorado 13 (Ruffin 4); Arizona State 8 (Seven players with 1; 1 team turnover). Total fouls — Colorado 18, Arizona St. 20. Technical foul — Lampkin. Fouled out — O'Brien. A — 8,128.