Gilling, ASU in hunt for Pac-12’s No. 5 seed

ASU's Jonathan Gilling has made 40.7 percent of his 627 career 3-point attempts, the third-highest percentage in Pac-12 history for players with at least 600 attempts.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Senior Jonathan Gilling was asked about his expectations upon arrival at Arizona State from his native Denmark in 2011.

"When I came here, it was a whole new country, big gym," Gilling told reporters Tuesday. "(The ASU practice gym) is the size of the gym I played my home games in Denmark, so I didn’t have any expectations. It was just like, ‘I’m taking it where it comes.’"

It has taken him to lofty places in school history. 

That is Gilling, as in willing. 

Gilling has done whatever was asked during his four-year career, always a contributor, from emergency starter midway through his freshman year to sixth man and 3-point specialist the final 1-1/2 seasons. Consistency has been his hallmark.

He will play his 128th game Thursday night, when ASU (15-14, 7-9 Pac-12) attempts to work its way up in the conference tournament seeding list against Stanford (18-10, 9-7) at Wells Fargo Arena (FOX Sports 1, 9 p.m. MT). Only three Sun Devils have played in more games. A 6-foot-7 forward, Gilling is 13 points shy of 1,000, a number that almost seems a foregone conclusion inasmuch as he averages 6.2 points a game this season and the Sun Devils have at least three more to play.

At the start of the season, he was asked about team style. He mentioned the San Antonio Spurs and how he admired their way.

"Play the ball around," he said. "That’s what we will try to focus on, being a team more than individuals."

His game has been defined by a willingness to make the extra pass and by a deft touch from the outside. He has made 40.7 percent of his 627 career 3-point attempts, the third-highest percentage in Pac-12 history for players with at least 600 attempts. Only UCLA’s Jason Kopono and Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire had a higher rate.

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Gilling’s 255 3s are fifth in ASU history, eight short of Ron Riley and 18 short of Ty Abbott. He has made 52 threes and has a 44.4 shooting percentage from distance this season despite playing the fewest average minutes of his career, ceding time to talented sophomore Savon Goodman at power forward.

Gilling embraced his role when the Sun Devils opted to go with a more physical frontline in Pac-12 play, en route to the NCAA tournament last season, all along serving as a mentor to his less experienced teammates. When Gilling is not involved in a practice drill, it is not uncommon to see him standing courtside, offering tips to others.

He could tie guard Derek Glasser for the most games (131) in ASU history if the Sun Devils extend their season in the Pac-12 tournament or in postseason play. It probably would help some if they beat Stanford.

ASU could be the fifth seed in the Pac-12 tournament if a couple of things go its way this weekend.

If the Sun Devils sweep the Bay Area schools and the Cardinal also loses at Arizona on Saturday, the teams will finish 9-9, tied for fifth. The teams would have split in the regular season, but ASU would win the tiebreaker because of its victory over Arizona. Oregon State lost its chance at the fifth seed when it lost to Oregon on Wednesday night, after UCLA clinched the fourth seed by beating USC. Stanford will clinch the fifth seed if it wins once this weekend or if ASU loses once. It owns a tiebreaker over Cal.

ASU could finish as low as 10th seed if it loses twice this weekend. The tournament starts in Las Vegas with four first-round games Wednesday,

The Sun Devils finish the regular-season against Cal on Saturday afternoon. ASU beat Cal 79-44 on Jan. 22 before losing to Stanford 89-70.

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