For just the second time this season, Arizona State went to bed Thursday night coming off a Pac-12 win.
“It makes it a little bit easier to get (out of bed),” coach Herb Sendek said after a 57-52 home win over Utah. “The morning after a loss is always kind of a tough period. You might need an extra cup of coffee.”
It’s been a long season in Tempe. The Sun Devils (8-16 overall and 4-8 in the Pac-12) will enter Saturday’s game against Colorado trying to post back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Yes, it’s been that bad.
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But Thursday offered encouraging news for the fan base: Trent Lockett returned. The Sun Devils had been without their leading scorer and rebounder for six games, and the results were ugly. ASU went 1-5 without Lockett, who had taken over at point guard following Keala King’s dismissal Jan. 8.
In 17 games before Lockett’s ankle injury, the Sun Devils averaged 64 points and shot 47.6 percent. In the six without him, they averaged 52.2 and shot 40.8. Making matters worse, ASU’s assists dropped from 12.7 to 10.5 per game. Free-throw attempts dropped from 19.8 to 16.7.
Against Utah, Lockett was rusty but still effective, contributing 12 points and six rebounds and going 7 of 11 from the foul line. “(His return) definitely brought energy, and another voice on the court is always good,” teammate Carrick Felix said.
ASU’s win over Utah avenged a 21-point loss to the Utes on Jan. 12. To do the same against Colorado — which defeated ASU by 15 last month — the Devils will need to play much better.
“Even though we got the win, we still have some stuff we need to build on,” Felix said. “We have to continue to work.” NOTES, QUOTES
— ASU allowed Colorado too many “free” points in the 69-54 loss at Boulder. The Buffs shot 20 for 25 at the foul line and got their customary double-double from sophomore F Andre Roberson. Arizona State will have to be sharp against a Colorado lineup that gets points from a variety of sources.
–For most of his time at ASU, coach Herb Sendek’s teams have shot well from 3-point range. But that hasn’t been the case lately. The Sun Devils were just 3 of 10 from the arc in Thursday’s win over Utah, and over their last three games, they are 9 of 44 (20.4 percent). PLAYER NOTES
— In a remarkable turnaround, Jordan Bachynski continues to play the best basketball of his career. Bachynski, a 7-foot-2 sophomore, didn’t even play in ASU’s season opener as a DNP-coaches’ decision. But over ASU’s last six games, he has averaged 11 points, seven rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots while shooting 71 percent from the field.
— Carrick Felix played one of his better games of the year against Utah. Instead of relying on his 3-point shooting, the 6-foot-6 wing got into the lane, posting up and grabbing offensive rebounds. He did all this without hitting a 3-pointer, which is significant. In Felix’s previous four games without a 3, he had scored 6, 2, 1 and 0 points. Against Utah, he missed all his 3-point attempts and still scored 15 points and grabbed a career-best eight rebounds. Entering the contest, Felix had shot 52 percent from inside the arc and 32.7 outside of it.