(Photo courtesy: ASU Athletics)
With the 76-70 loss to Stanford Saturday afternoon, Arizona State drops to 16-6 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 conference.
Despite the loss, ASU stole one of two games in its Bay Area trip. The 89-78 win for the Sun Devils against a tough California team on Thursday night gave ASU some much-needed leeway for losses in the last few weeks of the season.
Going into the two road games in California, ASU wouldn’t have been down and out if it had lost both games, so one out of two wins will at least propel the Sun Devils with some confidence going into this week, playing at home against Oregon State and Oregon.
The Pac-12 is only continuing to become more complicated and muddled as Cal managed to pull off the win at home against No. 1 Arizona 60-58 with a last-second shot by Cal senior guard Justin Cobbs on Saturday night.
Arizona shot horrendously from the field in the first half, going 32.3 percent from the field and 18.2 from three-point range. Arizona leader, junior guard Nick Johnson, scored only four points and had five turnovers in the game.
Not only did Arizona drop its first game, now (21-2, 8-1) in Pac-12 play, but sophomore forward Brandon Ashley also suffered a foot injury according to reports and may be lost for the season.
Cal jumped to 15-7, 6-3 in Pac-12 play.
Colorado and Utah also played against each other on Saturday and the game went into overtime, with Colorado ultimately pulling it out on its home court, 79-75. Utah’s gritty style of play shined through, but Colorado sophomore center Josh Scott wouldn’t back down.
Scoring 20 points and 10 rebounds, Scott dominated as Colorado won for only the second time in the past six games since its start point guard Spencer Dinwiddie went out with a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 12.
In the Pacific Northwest, Washington travelled to Washington State and WSU pulled off the upset, 72-67. The win was only the Cougars second Pac-12 conference win of the season.
The lost dropped Washington to (13-9, 5-4) in the Pac-12, tied with four other Pac-12 teams for fourth place in the conference.
With so many variables and so many teams starting to click and emerge as competitors in the Pac-12, at the very least, ASU will need be careful to not get behind and start losing crucial games at home as well as to teams lower in the pack.
Against Stanford, ASU fought well in the first half in a back and forth game. However, ASU got in early foul trouble, with seven fouls with 12 minutes left in the first half. Stanford went 5 of 7 from the free-throw line during that stretch.
Foul trouble wasn’t the only worries for ASU. Rebounding, especially on the offensive end, has deeply hurt ASU’s play.
Coming into the game against Stanford, mostly due to the change in lineup with sophomore forward Eric Jacobsen, the Sun Devils had been dominating the glass going plus five in the offensive rebounding category.
Against Stanford, it was a completely different story.
Trailing 33-32 at the half, Arizona State was being out-rebounded 21-12 and by the end of the game, Stanford out-rebounded the Sun Devils 40-32 and had 15 second- chance points compared the ASU’s four.
Going into the second half, despite getting into foul trouble early and the lack of rebounding, ASU did have the three-point game working in its favor.
With six threes in the first half alone, ASU showed early on why it was leading the conference in three-point shooting. ASU finished the game making 11 from behind the arc.
With the start of the second half, ASU was in the position to make a run and swing the momentum in its favor.
However, a 20-6 run by Stanford to start the second half blew away any chance for ASU to make its mark early on. Stanford’s senior forward Dwight Powell outscored ASU 12-9 in the second half’s first eight minutes.
Not only did ASU get out-rebounded in the game, but it got outscored 28-12 in the paint. Senior center Jordan Bachynski grabbed 10 rebounds, but only had seven points, going 2 of 5 from the field.
Sophomore point guard Jahii Carson continued to produce for the Sun Devils, scoring a team-high 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field. Carson picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes left to go in the second half, but after a short stint on the bench, head coach Herb Sendek sent his leading scorer back in at the 7:44 mark.
While Carson played smart and didn’t pick up his fifth foul down the stretch, he failed to knock down a three-pointer that would have cut Stanford’s lead to one with 39 seconds left to play.
Then, out of a Stanford timeout with 36 seconds left, the Sun Devils drew up a play for junior forward Jonathan Gilling to shoot the three-pointer that would have cut Stanford’s lead to three.
Gilling failed to make the three-pointer and ended the night on 0 for 5 shooting, all from behind the three-point arc.
A positive coming out of the loss was that senior guard Jermaine Marshall continued his hot shooting streak with 22 points on the night and was 6 of 8 from behind the three-point arc.
ASU showed that it had the capability to win with a balanced scoring attack against Colorado. If ASU can’t go out in games with a balanced scoring attack the remainder of the season, it could have some major troubles down the stretch.
Gilling needs to be able to help out the team and score points off the bench for the rotation of players to work for Sendek. Carson and Marshall are the one-two punch that the Sun Devils needed, but now Bachynski needs to be the big presence in the paint and assert himself even more.
ASU has nine more Pac-12 conference games left in the season and if ASU has learned anything in the first half of Pac-12 play, it’s that anything can happen.
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