ASU notebook: Expect ugly basketball
Not much has gone right for Arizona State this season, but losing Trent Lockett with an ankle sprain just as the team was starting to show improvement seemed almost cruel.
Herb Sendek's team likely will be without its leading scorer and latest point guard in Saturday's Pac-12 game against struggling Utah. Of course, since the Utes will be without leading scorer Josh Watkins (dismissed this week for violating team rules), maybe the misfortune battle ends in a draw.
Regardless, you can expect ugly basketball; just don't expect excuses. At least not from ASU, which fell to 6-12 and 2-4 in the Pac-12 following Thursday's 69-54 loss at Colorado.
"If you want to go there, you can," Sendek said. "The guys knew coming into (Thursday's game) he was a big part of our team, but we always talk about that if a guy's out, we will need to focus on the guys that are in and ready to play. That's all you really can do."
The unfortunate part for ASU fans: ASU had actually showed positive signs before Lockett's injury. On Jan. 8, Sendek dismissed sophomore point guard Keala King, and over the next four games, the Sun Devils shot 55 percent while getting better ball movement than they had all season. They posted wins at USC and against Oregon State, but the latter came with an asterisk because Lockett left with the ankle injury.
Momentum gone. On Thursday, ASU scored just 15 points in the first half against Colorado. Although the Sun Devils played better in the second half, most of the production was simply due to their 3-point shot starting to fall. Few scoring opportunities came through the offense, which means Saturday's contest at Utah will offer yet another test for a struggling team.
In his effort to reduce turnovers, Sendek has gone through junior-college transfer Chris Colvin, King and Lockett at the point. Now he's back to Colvin, who too often commits unforced turnovers. ASU's only other option: walk-on freshman Max Heller.
Colvin, who was suspended for the two games
in Los Angeles two weeks ago, had a turnover in just one minute in the loss to Oregon but then contributed six points, six assists and
just two turnovers in 13 minutes to help seal the win over Oregon State.
"It's no secret Chris has been struggling," Sendek said. "His
confidence has been on the rocks, but for him to gather himself and play
the way he did the last quarter of the game is just a real tribute to
him. I'm very proud of him."
With the offense struggling, ASU will need more from Carrick Felix. At times this season, the junior wing
has been the team's best player. In November, he scored 20 points in a
loss to New Mexico. In December, he scored 15 points in consecutive
games against Nevada and North Dakota State. Two weeks ago, he had a
career-high 22 in a win at USC.
Since then, he's pretty much disappeared. Entering Thursday's game at
Colorado, Felix, who initially signed with Duke coming out of junior
college, has averaged six points over his last three games while going 6 for 22 from the field. He scored 13 point against the Buffaloes, but only two came in the
first half when the game was still up for grabs.
"With him, we are focusing on consistency and coming into an
environment like this being ready to go at the beginning of the game, and
not only maintaining that level of play throughout the game but from
game to game," Sendek said after the Colorado loss.
-- Coach Herb Sendek, addressing his recent dismissal of Keala King, said it's important that the program maintain certain standards.
"We spend a lot of time together, and in the final analysis, it just seemed to me that it made great sense for our program and for Keala that we had a new beginning," Sendek said. "That's never an easy decision when you're wrestling with a young man's future. That's an agonizing process."
-- Arizona State had 21 turnovers in its win over Oregon State on Jan. 14, 13 of them in the first half.
-- The Sun Devils shot 59 percent from the field against the Beavers two days after shooting 51 percent in the loss to Oregon.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Turnovers by junior Trent Lockett in his first four games starting at point guard following the dismissal of Keala King.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We came together and played as a team. We pulled together at the end, and that's what teams do. ... We finally drew a line in the sand. We got to just keep building off this." -- Sophomore F Chanse Creekmur, after scoring a career-high 24 points in Arizona State's win over Oregon State.
-- In last Saturday's home win over Oregon State, sophomore Chanse Creekmur scored a career-high 24 points. In Thursday's loss at Colorado, he didn't score at all, missing all five shots. This has turned into a trend. At home, Creekmur is shooting 19 for 37 (51 percent) from 3-point range. On the road and in neutral-court games, he is 7 of 30 (23.3 percent).