ASU pulls away from Colorado in impressive win

From left, Jahii Carson, Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes react during the second half of ASU's win over Colorado.

TEMPE, Ariz. — All is well again for Arizona State. 

The new rotation is working, the home court proved an oasis and the Sun Devils are back in the thick of the Pac-12 race.

After running past Colorado 72-51 at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday, Arizona State (15-5, 4-3) is one of four Pac-12 teams with at least 15 victories and one of five teams with a winning record in conference play. The Sun Devils leap-frogged Colorado in the league standings, and the victory was particularly significant inasmuch as the Buffaloes entered the game with an RPI of 18, according to Realtime RPI, which simulates the formula the NCAA counts among its tools on Selection Sunday.

"All in all, a good win and a good weekend for us," ASU coach Herb Sendek said.  

Jahii Carson had a game-high 18 points and reached 1,000 career points as the Sun Devils rebounded from double-digit losses at UCLA and No. 1 Arizona — their two most difficult road matchups of the season — with their second straight win and most decisive victory in league play this year. They led 51-29 with 12 minutes remaining and rolled home.

"I think everybody has a good spirit," Carson said. "Especially with these two wins, I think everybody’s confidence is high. The practices we had the last week were good, and I think we are all on the same page as far as sustaining them and having good energy. The energy you bring in practice is going to carry over into the game, and we are starting to understand that. When everybody has good spirit, it is great for the team, and it shows on the court."

For the second straight game, Sendek started 6-foot-10 sophomore Eric Jacobsen at power forward, teaming him with 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski to provide more girth inside, and it worked.

Jacobsen had six points, six rebounds and a blocked shot and drew a charge in his 20 minutes, and his presence helped counteract a Colorado frontline that measured 6-10, 6-9 and 6-7. He was matched up against both 6-9 Wesley Gordon and 6-10 Josh Scott.

The Sun Devils had a 36-31 rebounding edge, and in occupying the opponents, Jacobsen helps the rest of the team get to the boards. Carson and Shaquille McKissic had six rebounds apiece, as did Bachynski.

"He’s a big body down there," Carson said of Jacobsen. "He takes up a lot of space in the post, and he’s aggressive. Any time you are aggressive like that and bring a lot of energy, it’s going to be important for us."

Displaced starter Jonathan Gilling again thrived as a spark off the bench with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. He made his first four field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers, and was 9 for 10 over the weekend after making all five of his shots in a 79-75 victory over Utah on Thursday. He did not have a miss until a shot was blocked with about six minutes remaining Saturday.

"Nothing really changed in my mindset other than that I have to come from the bench. I am happy to do it. Whatever it takes, right?" Gilling said.

Guard Bo Barnes, whose role keeps increasing, had seven points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. He was the first man off the bench, entering less than two minutes in. After scoring five points in 33 minutes in the first 17 games this season, Barnes has 29 points in 64 minutes in the last three games, with at least one 3-pointer in each game.

Colorado (15-6, 4-4) has scored 54, 56, 57 and 51 points in its four Pac-12 losses, three of which came without starting All-Pac-12 big guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first half of a 71-54 loss to Washington on Jan. 12. In this one, the Buffaloes shots 42.6 percent from the field and went just 9 of 24 from the free-throw line.

"We’ve got a good team, we’ve got a good system. It’s proven itself," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "But right now, you put all the factors together — the lack of defense, the lack of rebounding and poor free-throw shooting, 19 turnovers on the road — you’re going to get blown out.”

Colorado also committed 19 turnovers, tied for the most against ASU this season.

"I was really pleased with our team’s defensive effort," Sendek said. "We played with good concentration and really helped each other on that end of the floor."

DID YOU NOTICE?

In a halftime presentation that included many former ASU players, Eddie House had his No. 5 jersey retired. Lionel Hollins, Fat Lever, Byron Scott and Joe Caldwell also have their ASU jerseys hanging from the rafters at Wells Fargo Arena. House was ASU’s first Pac-12 player of the year, winning in 1999-2000. Surrounded by the current team, House rang the victory bell at midcourt after the victory, and he addressed the team after the game.

STAT OF THE GAME

.811 — Jordan Bachynski’s free-throw percentage in Pac-12 play after making all three of his attempts against Colorado. He has made 30 of 37 in league play.

TAKEAWAYS

— Jermaine Marshall, gradually returning from a groin injury that sidelined him against Arizona, had eight points and made two 3-pointers. He scored all of his points in the first six minutes of the second half as ASU turned an 11-point lead into a 19-point cushion.

— Shaquille McKissic had five more assists, and his ability to make the extra pass helped the Sun Devils to a lot of easy hoops. He set up a Jonathan Gilling 3-pointer late in the first half and also made the final pass before Jermaine Marshall’s first 3 of the second half.

— ASU had not had a more decisive Pac-12 victory since a 71-46 win over Washington State here Jan. 10, 2010. This was the fourth-largest margin of victory in Pac-12 play in Herb Sendek’s eight seasons.

— With three more blocked shots, Jordan Bachynski moved his career total to 269, nine short of former Arizona center Anthony Cook’s Pac-12 record.

LAST CALL

With his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the right wing, Jahii Carson scored his 1,000th career point in his 55th game. Only two Sun Devil players have reached that plateau quicker: Ike Diogu and James Harden. And we know where they continued their careers.