Arizona State showed a lot of positive signs in their first home game of the post-Keala King era but ultimately couldn't execute in the final minutes falling 67-58 to the Oregon Ducks. Trent Lockett lead all scorers with 23 points but committed seven turnovers as he still attempts to learn the point guard position on the job. Those seven turnovers compiled with another nine from the rest of the team (16 total) were too much to overcome as the visiting Ducks scored 21 points off those mistakes.
It seemed like both teams were going to be pushing the century mark with the game tied at 11 before three minutes ticked off the clock. The Ducks then went on a 13-2 run that was sparked by the visitors giving the Devils handful of different defensive looks over an eight minute period. With the game already slipping through their fingers before the second act, ASU rallied late showing some reinvigorated play thanks much in part to some great decision-making by Lockett.
Coming out of the locker room down 37-35, the Devils were able to extend their lead to as much as four thanks to some big shots from Ruslan Pateev and Chanse Creekmur before the team began to run out of steam on the offensive end due largely to a short bench and Oregon's suffocating defense. Arizona State managed to hang around to the final three minutes but a back court violation followed by a few forced shots proved to be too costly and the Devils could never narrow the deficit.
Although Lockett and Felix's fatigue showed down the stretch (78 minutes total), Head Coach Herb Sendek didn't have much possibilities for relief with the shrinking bench only totaling seven points in this one. The Ducks also seemed to game plan for the surging Jonathan Gilling holding him to just three points (1-5 shooting) but he still managed to make an impact, tying Lockett for the team lead in assists with five.
The Devils will have one day off before Oregon State rolls into town at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Hopefully the starters will be able to shake off those big minute totals they logged tonight or the Devils might have to wait yet another game for their second conference win.
Out of the smoke from the fire that was the suspension and ultimate dismissal of Keala King, the suspension of Chris Colvin and the ineligibility of Jahii Carson, Trent Lockett has emerged. It might not be enough to save the 2011-2012 Arizona State basketball season, but Lockett is running the point for the Sun Devils.
And he seems to be growing into the role. Using his size and some strong moves to the basket to his advantage, Lockett made 8 of 11 shots and logged five assists and four rebounds Thursday night against Oregon.
Lockett, a starter at off guard before King was dismissed, took over the position last weekend in Los Angeles in the wake of the suspensions of King and Colvin. Yet another Sun Devil asked to play out of his natural position, he has scored 54 points in those three games including 23 Thursday night in the 67-58 loss to the Ducks.
Lockett is clearly the Devils' go-to guy, but he's experiencing growing pains at a new position for him. The points have come but the mistakes have, too. Lockett was responsible for seven of ASU's 16 turnovers Thursday and has committed 18 in the three games at the point.
Things is, he's irreplaceable. The two players backing up Lockett at point guard are Colvin, who was pulled from the game after giving up a 3-pointer on defense and turned the ball over in less than a minute and never returned; and freshman Max Heller, who saw action in L.A. with the Devils playing shorthanded.
"We're just asking him to do everything for the team, score, defend and never come out of the game," ASU coach Herb Sendek said.
"I couldn't take him out of the game."
Lockett said he's fine with handling the ball and doesn't consider anything a problem. He felt the Devils handled Oregon's full-court press well.
But the losing continues for struggling and undermanned ASU (5-11 overall, 1-3 in Pac-12).
"Nothing we haven't been through before," Lockett said.
Sendek said he'd like to play Colvin more, but admitted the team could use another guy at the position.
"I just want him (Colvin) to play to his full capability," Sendek said.