Lockett, Devils hold off pesky Bobcats 78-72
To hear coach Herb Sendek's postgame comments, it would be hard to realize his Arizona State Sun Devils won their season opener against Montana State.
Sendek lamented the Devils' 22 turnovers and the 17 second-chance shots the Bobcats had were the top things on his mind after Arizona State eked out a 78-72 victory over its Big Sky opponent on Friday.
''We were annihilated on the glass,'' he said, pointing out the seven offensive rebounds for Montana State's Tre Johnson. ''It seems like they shot a much higher percentage than 34 percent from the field because every time they shot they got another shot, and sometimes a third shot.''
As for the turnovers, the most in Sendek's six-season tenure at Arizona State, they were ''careless, sloppy.''
''We just didn't take care of the ball anywhere near the way we need to,'' Sendek said, ''so defensive rebounding and turnovers, two obvious glaring shortcomings of our team today.''
Trent Lockett had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his second career double-double.
Sendek praised Lockett's performance.
''I thought he really put us on his shoulders with his toughness, as reflected by his 10 rebounds, and allowed us to hold on for a hard-fought win.''
The Sun Devils led 33-21 at halftime but the Bobcats started the second half with an 18-8 run and stayed within single digits most of the rest of the way.
Keala King scored 16 and Carrick Felix 13, including a steal and breakaway stuff that put the Sun Devils up by 10 with 3:21 to play. Five Sun Devils scored in double figures.
''We would have liked to end it a little bit differently,'' Lockett said. ''I think we had 10-point lead with about a minute and a half left and tried to extend it rather than see it shrink, but it's good to get a win.''
Shawn Reid led Montana State with 19. Xavier Johnson-Blount added 13 and Tre Johnson 11 for the Bobcats, who shot just 34 percent, 18 percent in the first half.
Bobcats coach Brad Huse said there were ''definitely some positives'' for his team in the close loss.
''I thought we showed good resilience. The first half they forced us into some turnovers that gave them a double-digit lead,'' Huse said. ''I thought we were a little tight, especially shooting the basketball, but we relaxed in the second half and I thought we competed real hard.''
Three-pointers by Christian Moon and Rod Singleton sliced the lead to 75-72 with 13 seconds to play, but King made one of two free throws, then after a missed Montana State layup, Kyle Cain sank two from the line to finally put away the Bobcats, winless in four tries against Arizona State.
Lockett scored eight in a 10-2 run to end the first half and give Arizona State a 33-21 lead at the half. The Bobcats shot just 18 percent in the half (5-for-28), 3 of 16 from 3-point range. The Sun Devils didn't exactly light it up, either, making 39 percent of their shots (11 of 28). Arizona State committed 13 turnovers in the sloppy first 20 minutes, to 10 for Montana State.
The Bobcats, with just one starter back from last season's 13-18 team, opened the second half with an 18-8 run, cutting the lead to 41-39 on Jourdain Allou's three-point play with 14:18 remaining.
The Sun Devils scored the next seven, the last five by King, whose 3-pointer made it 49-41 with 12:32 to go. But the Bobcats came back again. King fouled Johnson-Blount on a three-point try, and he made two of three free throws to cut the lead to 51-47 with 10 minutes remaining.
King's layup capped a 7-0 spurt that boosted it to 58-47.
After Felix's steal and stuff made it 68-58, he added a pair of free throws with 2:46 remaining to make it 70-58, matching the Sun Devils' biggest lead of the game.
Again, Montana State came back with a 14-7 spurt that made it close at the end.
The Sun Devils are without their top recruit, point guard Jahii Carson, who is awaiting word from the NCAA on his academic eligibility.