Creekmur steps up as ASU comes together

Creekmur steps up as ASU comes together

Published Jan. 14, 2012 8:36 p.m. ET

TEMPE, Ariz. -- With a chance to make more of an impact these days, sophomore wing Chanse Creekmur is doing just that.

Creekmur had a career-high 24 points and made a career-high six 3-pointers as Arizona State broke a four-game home losing streak with a 76-66 Pac-12 victory over Oregon State despite playing without leading scorer Trent Lockett for the last 10 minutes and 11 seconds.

Lockett suffered a right ankle sprain when he went down under his own basket while going for an offensive rebound, and was helped off the floor and then into the ASU locker room. He was on crutches and had a wrap on his ankle after the game.

It could have been another uh-oh moment for a team that has been in flux much of the year after point guard Jahii Carson could not gain his eligibility and fill-in point Keala King was kicked off the team a week ago.

Instead, Creekmur and the Sun Devils (6-11, 2-3) maintained their edge, building a nine-point lead to as many as 12.

"We finally drew a line in the sand,” said Creekmur, a 6-foot-5 sophomore.

"A gut-check win,” coach Herb Sendek said.

Creekmur made four 3-pointers in the second half as ASU turned a three-point halftime deficit into its biggest home victory of the season by sharing the ball and dissecting the Beavers’ 1-3-1 zone trap that had caused most of the Sun Devils’ 11 turnovers in the first half.

"We basically just settled down," Creekmur said. "We were fooled by an illusion. That 1-3-1 press is an illusion. We just have to attack it and be strong with the ball."

Creekmur’s 3-pointer with nine minutes remaining off a feed from Chris Colvin gave ASU a 53-46 lead, and Oregon State (11-7, 1-5) never got closer than five points thereafter.

Kyle Cain, who missed last weekend's Los Angeles trip while suspended, was active inside, getting 16 points and eight rebounds, and Ruslan Pateev chipped in 10 points. Chris Colvin had his most impactful performance of the season while taking over for Lockett in the latter portion of the second half. He had six points, six rebounds and six assists against only two turnovers in 13 minutes.

Because of the recent roster transition, Creekmur has started five of the last six games, first when Pateev was forced to sit out a game for a punching foul and then after suspensions left the Sun Devils three players short on the Los Angeles trip (ASU split) last week. He started both games against the Oregon schools this week.

He has played 39 minutes in a game twice in that stretch, and his productivity Saturday -- he was 8 of 9 from the field and 6 of 7 from 3-point range – gave ASU another scoring option to go with Lockett, wing Carrick Felix and post players Pateev and Cain.

“It was just one of those nights, one of those nights when you can keep building off the first one and as they start falling, you just feel more confident as the game goes on,” Creekmur said.

“It’s just playing the game of basketball. You get more time, and that’s just going back to earning coach’s trust.”

Like freshman Jonathan Gilling, who also has made most of his extended playing time recently, Creekmur is an able outside shooter, a nice threat to have as the Sun Devils get into the rhythm of their more-patterned offense. Creekmur once made nine 3-pointers in a high school game at Marshalltown (Iowa) High.

Creekmur scored eight points in the first three and a half minutes of the second half, when ASU turned a 34-31 deficit into a 44-39 lead. His second 3 in that short burst came after Gilling passed up an open look at the top of the key and zipped the ball to Creekmur on the left baseline for an open shot.

“John had an open shot, but he had the basketball IQ and awareness to know that Chanse was open in the corner and on fire," Sendek said. "That’s one of the best plays of the season.”

ASU shot 59 percent from the field had a season-high 22 assists on 29 baskets. Lockett had seven in his 24 minutes (he added eight points), while Colvin had six and Felix four.

“We couldn’t find their shooters in the second half,” OSU coach Craig Robinson said. "It was the first time that I felt like we weren't the typical Oregon State team we have been all year."

Like Sendek, Creekmur believes the team is beginning  to blend into a cohesive unit, even while learning a new offense.

“We’re finally starting to pull together and doing what it takes to win,” Creekmur said. ”I think we’re still trying to figure it out, but the sky is the limit for us. We have really great moments, and then we have moments when we play like we’re young.

"We’re a young team, but that’s no excuse. As we continue to grow, we’ll show more improvement.”