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Bachynski leads Sun Devils past UCLA

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The Sun Devils dominated the UCLA Bruins by winning 78-60 today at Wells Fargo Arena.

The 18-point win was due in large part to the play of Center Jordan Bachynski and forward Carrick Felix. Bachynski finished with a career high 22 points and 15 rebounds, and also added 6 blocks. Felix led all scorers with 23 points and recorded 11 rebounds.

“Everyone knows I’ve had a slump the past couple of games…it took time but I had to get my confidence back,” Bachynski said. “I knew what I had to do, and that makes a big difference.”

UCLA (16-5, 6-2 Pac-12) struggled to defend the interior, as ASU (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) was able to score 46 of their points in the paint.

“Our coaching staff and our players were really focused. They were engaged in what we had to do. I think our players were plugged in, and coach Mussleman and our entire coaching staff did a great job with a very short window to prepare,” head coach Herb Sendek said.

ASU held a consistent double-digit lead in the second half, and never let UCLA sneak back into the game.

“We contained Shabazz [Muhammad] and [Jordan] Adams. Those guys are always looking for opportunities to come off screens and curls to hit open threes. But we had a strategy with me helping out Carrick and helping out Evan on the curls. I think us doing that good job on the defensive end stopped them from coming back,” point guard Jahii Carson said.

The game started off pretty evenly, with both teams exchanging baskets. It wasn’t until 8:24 that the Sun Devils started to pull ahead.

Bachynski scored two quick buckets and then forward Carrick Felix laid it in after a UCLA turnover to give ASU a 24-19 lead. Bachynski then continued to dominate the paint, as he spun past Bruins center Tony Parker, and then laid it in.

UCLA was able to tie the game up at 28 with five minutes left in the half, but ASU was once again able to reclaim the momentum. Felix had two monster one-handed slams, and shooting guard Evan Gordon hit a big three in the last minute to give ASU a 39-33 lead at the half.

The Sun Devils opened the second half up with a 12-4 run, which gave them a 14 point lead. UCLA tried to claw their way back into the way, but the most they could do was bring the deficit to nine points. The Bruins were sporadic on offense, and poor shot selection led to them shooting 28.9 percent from the floor in the second half. In the last two minutes of the game, the Sun Devils secured the victory by sinking eight free throws.

“This is huge. It helps our momentum and helps our confidence. It feels good, it feels so much better to win,” Bachynski said. “UCLA is a great team…but we knew what we needed to do and we did it.”

It was a solid team effort for the Sun Devils as Carson finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and eight assists, and forward Jonathan Gilling also had a career high eight assists. UCLA’s leading scorer Shabazz Muhammad shot 53 percent from the field and finished with 18 points. Guard Jordan Adams led all Bruin scorers with 19 points.

The Sun Devils return to action on Thursday Jan. 31 as they travel to take on Washington State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.

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