LOS ANGELES - Sooner or later, if you’re an Arizona State basketball fan who lives a long life, you’ll see your team beat a ranked opponent.
But it probably won’t happen this season.
Not the way this season is going for ASU. And not the way the season is going for the Pac-10, which doesn’t figure to produce many ranked teams the rest of the way.
The Sun Devils gave what they had Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion, but once again that wasn’t enough as they fell 69-60 to No. 14 UCLA.
That means ASU has lost 14 straight to ranked opponents; the last win came in the 2003 NCAA tournament against Memphis.
And the way Pac-10 teams have been sliding, they may not get a chance to play another that’s ranked.
“We played pretty well but turned it over a few too many times,” ASU coach Rob Evans said.
Bryson Krueger led ASU (7-12, 1-9 Pac-10) with 14 points. Freshman Jeff Pendergraph, the Devils’ best player lately, was held to six points as the Bruins doublecovered him.
“That’s pretty high respect when they double-team a freshman,” Evans
said. “They didn’t even double-team Ike (Diogu) when he was a freshman.”
The Devils once again battled gamely, but didn’t have enough firepower to pull out a win.
They trailed just 32-30 at halftime as Antwi Atuahene hit a layup to beat the buzzer at intermission.
They probably would have led if they hadn’t turned it over nine times, several on offensive fouls and other unforced errors.
Then their offense went dead. After eight minutes had passed, the second-half score was UCLA 9, ASU 3 (all by Serge Angounou), making it 41-33.
Kevin Kruger hit a 3-pointer to loosen up the UCLA defense, and ASU got within 45-42 with 9:30 left, but the Bruins (18-4, 8-2) started to pull away in the closing minutes on the scoring of Arron Afflalo (17 points).
Even so, Atuahene hit a follow shot to draw ASU to within 62-56 with 1:25 left, then UCLA’s Cedric Bozeman hit a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left to wrap it up.
Jordan Farmar scored 18 points to lead the Bruins.
The UCLA student section let loose an obscene chant in a recent game against USC, prompting athletic director Dan Guerrero to scold the students in the school newspaper. Guerrero said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” but indicated he hoped it was a one-time incident and wouldn’t take any other action.
In its preview box on Thursday night’s ASU-UCLA women’s game in Tempe, the Los Angeles Times, writing about ASU, said, “The Wildcats are coming off a pair of victories at Washington and Washington State.”