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The Sun Devils fell into some all-too-familiar bad habits Saturday afternoon against Colorado at Wells Fargo Arena, losing for the second time this season to the Buffaloes 63-49. Trent Lockett and Jonathan Gilling lead the way for the Devils with 10 and 11 points respectively but two other numbers really told the tale: 18 turnovers and a 35.8 shooting percentage. Colorado Freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie lead all scorers with 15 points.
"Our biggest problem once again was our turnovers," Head Coach Herb Sendek said. "Coupled with the inability to put the ball in the basket...it really put a tremendous burden on our defense."
It all seemed to start when the red-hot Jordan Bachynski (averaging 11 points, seven rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game over the past six contests) picked up two quick fouls in less than five minutes. After subbing out, the offense became lifeless, forcing shots near the end of the shot clock and making bad decisions (12 turnovers in the first half).
"I thought the ball really did stick too much," Sendek said. "We didn't have fluid ball movement today. It certainly wasn't by design."
The Buffs continued to build on the 7-0 run they ended the first twenty minutes with by emerging from the locker room in attack mode, going right at Bachynski and causing him to pick up his third and fourth fouls in the first 1:34.
"[Bachynski] really never got into the flow," Sendek said. "His foul troubled changed some things for us tonight."
"Not having [Bachynski] in there hurt us," Lockett said. "He's got to play smarter; and he knows that."
From there, the Devils still managed to hang around due to some solid half court defense but ultimately the shots were never falling consistently enough to pull off any sort of substantial comeback. Colorado's double-digit lead was cut to as little as eight down the stretch yet every time the Devils would begin to threaten, the Buffs would get some easy points off free throws, killing the momentum. Really though, fans still can't help but wonder if the results might be closer if the Devils could just be more careful with the ball.
"Tonight is a microcosm of our season," Sendek said. "We have not found a way to get that [turnover] number to a more manageable size. We just didn't give ourselves a chance."
Next up for the Devils (8-17) is their final road trip of the season as they head north to take on the Washington Huskies and the Washington St. Cougars before heading back home to end the year with three-game home stand.
Other Game Notes:
It wasn't pretty by any means, but the Devils got their revenge against the Utes Thursday night, winning 57-52. Next up on the retribution tour is the Colorado Buffaloes, with tip off set for 4:30 pm at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Buffaloes (16-8) dominated the game in their first meeting less than a month ago, ultimately winning 69-54 after jumping out to a 31-15 halftime lead. With that win, the Buffs overtook the lead in the all-time series 3-2. Unfamiliarity may play a factor in the last loss though, as Head Coach Herb Sendek had never faced Colorado in his 19-year career.
With one game under his belt now, the Devils will hopefully be a little more competitive. But it wont be easy with the Buffs playing their best basketball of the season. Colorado has won five of their last seven earning them a tie for third place in the conference.
Where to watch: This game can be viewed live on Fox Sports Arizona so make sure to check your local listings.
Despite a late surge by the visitors, the Devils ultimately got some much-needed revenge Thursday evening against the Utes, surviving to win 57-52 at Wells Fargo Arena. Although Trent Lockett's return was the story to begin the night, Sophomore center Jordan Bachynski stole the show logging his first career double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) to go along with four blocks in a dominant performance. Carrick Felix and Lockett were the only other Sun Devils to hit double digits with 15 and 12 points respectively.
"[Bachynski] has really come in and found his niche," Lockett said. "It really just clicked win his parent came out to [last month's game at Utah]. That was really when I first saw some energy in his eyes...he's just built on that continuing from that game."
And Lockett is correct in that assumption. Since the first Utah game, it seems a fire has been lit under Bachynski as he's averaged 11 points, seven rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game. His assertiveness on the glass tonight set the tone for the Devils as they out-rebounded Utah 40-22. This marked only the second time that ASU has lead the rebounding category in the final box score in the last seven games. That stat was especially important in low-scoring affair in which the Devils had a whopping 20 turnovers (a number that Head Coach Herb Sendek called "amazing").
The Devils were also fortunate that Utah chose Thursday to have one of their worst shooting performances of the year. Because of ASU's massive amount of turnovers, the Utes attempted 17 more shots than Arizona State but only to the tune of 30.4%, registering just one double-digit scorer (Chris Hines with 10) in the process.
"We did pull it out but it could have gone a lot differently," Lockett said.
And it almost did. Even with that dismal percentage, the Utes had a chance to steal it at the end when their threes started falling and the Devils fell into an offensive funk. But some late free throws by Felix extended ASU's lead back to a two-score game and gave them enough breathing room to pull this close one out.
"[Felix] was obviously really key making those two clutch free throws," Sendek said. "He was really in the flow of things tonight."
Arizona State has Friday off before part two of their revenge tour begins as Colorado heads into town for a 4:30 pm tip off. While the players all know that stiffer competition lies only two days ahead, Thursday's vengeance against the Utes at least partially leaves the Devils with a certain feeling of satisfaction.
"This gets rid of that sour taste," Felix said.
Post Game Notes:
So far for the Sun Devils, the new kids on the block in the Pac-12 haven't been too kind to their basketball program. When ASU made the road trip to face Colorado and Utah less than a month ago, they returned demoralized, losing both games by a combined total of 36 points. Now sitting at 7-16 with little left but pride to play for, the Devils are hoping to show the conference newbies that they aren't the pushovers they seemed to be before.
And they will hopefully get a big boost Thursday against Utah as leading scorer Trent Lockett is expected to return after a six game absence due to an ankle injury. Coach Herb Sendek has to be hoping that Lockett, who missed the first slate of games against these teams, wont take too long to regain his groove from the layoff. The Devils were finally beginning to show strides with Lockett learning the point guard position on the fly, going 2-2 in the four games he took over after Keala King was dismissed.
If there's one game the Devils should win though it's this Utah one. The Utes have dropped eight of their last nine games, with their lone victory coming against ASU sadly enough. Last time around, guards Cedric Martin and Chris Hines killed the Devils, combining for 31 points and 10 assists. Lockett's presence should help slow at least one of them but Chanse Creekmur or Chris Colvin will have to step up as well. Both combined to shoot 2 for 11 to go along with some mediocre defense the first time the met the Utes, which wont fly this time if ASU is going to avoid the sweep by the Pac-12 cellar dwellers. Fans of the maroon and gold are also crossing their fingers for Jordan Bachynski to have a repeat performance from their last meeting. The sophomore center had 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks back on the January 21, which set off the current hot streak he's been on.
Lockett's 6.4 boards per game should provide a boost in the rebounding category, which will be helpful against the Buffaloes on Saturday, who out-rebounded ASU 34-22 in their first meeting. It will also be nice if he Sendek could finish out this one too, as he was ejected in Colorado with 4:12 remaining after drawing two straight technical fouls. First and foremost though, ASU will have to find a way to slow down Andre Roberson. Roberson, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds the first time around, has really stepped up his game in every facet as of late, averaging 12 points, 11.5 rebounds, three blocks and two steals a game over the past four contests. If Kyle Cain can build off his career-high 18 point game against Cal last Saturday, that would go a long way into equalizing the Buff's biggest threat.
If one's things for certain though, it's that this team's sense of urgency has to kick in now if they're to considering this year an improvement from last season. With only seven games left to play, ASU will have to win at least six of them to not finish with a worse record than the 12-19 last place 2010-2011 Sun Devil squad.