ASU notebook: Signs of hope amid latest loss

At this point, who knows if there’s progress? It seems that whenever Arizona State shows signs of significant improvement, there’s an immediate leap in the opposite direction.

Still, for a struggling team, Thursday night’s second-half effort at Washington is hard to ignore. The Sun Devils outscored the Huskies 43-33 over the final 20 minutes, shooting 58.3 percent.

The result was a somewhat respectable 77-69 loss at Alaska Airlines Arena, a performance that might give ASU some confidence entering Saturday’s game at Washington State.

“We were down 24 early (in the second half), but it was good to fight back,” coach Herb Sendek said. “We had a really good week of practice, and I thought the guys have been working extremely hard. They kept battling out there. If it weren’t for the (19) turnovers, we could’ve been a lot better.”

Arizona State (8-18, 4-10 Pac-12) has struggled all season, but life on the road has been particularly tough. The Sun Devils have been competitive at home but outscored by an average of nearly 13 points on the road. They’ve shot 45 percent in nine road games, seven of which have been losses.

“We definitely showed some improvement,” guard Trent Lockett said after the Washington loss. “We had stretches where we played decently. You try to take positives out of that, but again, it’s the same story.”

ASU — routed the last month at Stanford, California, Colorado and even Utah — has lost six in a row away from Wells Fargo Arena.

NOTES, QUOTES

— Entering Saturday’s contest, ASU is averaging 16.7

turnovers per game, which leads the Pac-12 and is 4.5 more than last year’s average. Surprisingly, it’s not the most for a Herb

Sendek-coached team: In 1998, Sendek’s North Carolina State club

averaged 16.9 turnovers per game.

— The Sun Devils played one of their strongest games earlier in the season against Washington State in Tempe, winning 71-67. Wazzu has lost standout sixth man Faisal Aden to a season-ending knee injury since then, but the key to slowing the Cougars is to keep a short leash on 6-10 junior PF Brock Motum, perhaps the Pac-12’s most improved player this season.

PLAYER NOTES

— Carrick Felix didn’t start Thursday for the first time in 26 games. The junior wing has battled inconsistency all season. In a Feb. 9 win over Utah, Felix played one of his better games, scoring 15 points and grabbing a career-best eight rebounds. Two days later against Colorado, he was a different player, collecting two points and two rebounds in 32 minutes.

“We’ve consistently changed the starting lineup,” coach Herb Sendek said. “Sometimes it’s just to give a guy a look at the game and let him settle into it a little bit.”

— Chanse Creekmur still can’t find his shot. Since scoring a career-high 24 points against Oregon State on Jan. 14, the sophomore forward is 5 for 33 (15.2 percent) over his past eight games. As he’s struggled, his minutes have decreased. Against Washington, Creekmur played just 12 minutes, his fewest since he logged five minutes Dec. 21 against Fresno State.