We learned the hard way a long time ago that we come too close too often to striking gold--but almost inevitably lose.
We wrote yesterday that, in our imaginary betting world, we would take the "under" in Arizona State's basketball game against USC if the combined point total was 115.
We also figured that the young Trojans, as poorly as they've been playing this season, would muster enough juice on their home court in Los Angeles to beat the equally lowly Sun Devils.
Wrong on the latter count, for sure, as ASU put together its best game of the season--and without three of its usual starters, who were left back home in Tempe for the weekend after being (unspecified) bad boys.
Final score: ASU 62, USC 53--for a combined count of, yup, 115 points.
Which means that if the "over-under' had been 115 as we had noted (it actually was 110), we would have lost our bet by one lousy point. That's par for the course for us.
Instead of calling our non-existent bookie, we just tuned into parts of the game on the radio. Tim Healey calls a hell of a game even when the teams are mediocre. As far as he was concerned, this one could have been for a trip to the Final Four.
It was hard not to come away impressed with the obvious effort that head coach Herb Sendek's makeshift line-up pulled off on the road.
The Devils played just seven players, including a little walk-on guard (Max Heller) and a previous freshman benchwarmer (Jonathan Gilling) for long minutes at a stretch.
Trent Lockett moved to the point guard slot for the game and played a key role in the win, despite seven turnovers.
It may not get much better than this for ASU this season, but at least last night, the men's basketball team should feel very proud of itself. And those three disciplined starters who also may have been listening to Healey (the game wasn't televised) ought to be reassessing how vital they really are to the team.
To the contrary, down in Anaheim, the favored Arizona Wildcats played one of their worst games of the season, losing to UCLA 65-58.
The Cats were unable to sustain any sort of rhythm during the 40 minutes, putting up several ill-advised bombs early in the shot clock and giving up at least a dozen uncontested lay-ups.
The Arizona teams switch opponents this weekend, with ASU facing UCLA tomorrow night, and the Wildcats trying to right the ship against USC on Sunday afternoon.