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:
- Lockett did go through some rough patches tonight in his 36 minutes of play with four missed free throws and four turnovers. But purely from a spectator's standpoint, it was like he never missed a beat. When asked how he feels post-game Lockett replied "Pretty good. Medicine is a wonderful thing." He'll be good to go for Saturday.
- While Bachynski attributes "beast'-like play tonight to watching a lot of animal planet (or tigers attacking helicopter to be more specific), Sendek claims it's all about his continued perseverance after a rough start to the year. Sendek - "Through all the ups and downs, throw the learning curve he has just been tremendously positive."
- Despite both being in the starting lineup, Kyle Cain and Jonathan Gilling were relatively quiet tonight, only combining for eight total points. Something to watch for Saturday is if Sendek continues playing this larger lineup (Lockett, Felix, Gilling, Cain, Bachynski) or goes back to the drawing board after their so-so play.