Men’s basketball downs GCU in exhibition

IN ENEMY TERRITORY: ASU sophomore guard Keala King (21) drives the ball against two Grand Canyon defenders during the Sun Devils’ 89-69 exhibition win over the Antelopes. The Sun Devils said they corrected some of their mistakes they were experiencing in practice in the ‘Lopes inaugural game at GCU Arena. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Check out more photos from the Men’s Basketball exhibition game against Grand Canyon University in this slideshow.

Fighting a raucous crowd without much practice time, the ASU men’s basketball team showed promise in an 89-69 win over Grand Canyon University on Saturday.

As the smoke from the pregame fireworks slowly filtered out, so did ASU’s turnovers and inopportune fouls, which masked the difference in talent throughout the first half.

Junior Trent Lockett and sophomore Keala King led the team in points and rebounds with 15 and 10, respectively.

Since starting forwards junior Ruslan Pateev and sophomore Kyle Cain, played limited minutes because of foul trouble, consistent rebounding from the guards, like Lockett and King, became a focal point in the win.

“We have to be a team that gang rebounds and we do have some big strong guards,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “We’re the kind of team that really has to be a team and everybody has to take ownership on the glass.”

Junior transfer Chris Colvin also stepped up for the Sun Devils in a big way filling the point guard role, which most fans thought would be in star recruit Jahii Carson’s hands. Carson was still ruled ineligible for Saturday’s game but Sendek said they should know something early next week.

In Carson’s absence Colvin shined, driving past defenders almost seamlessly, pushing the team on the fast break and making smart passes around the basket.

The guard ended up tied for the team lead with 15 points and led the team with seven assists.

“He played with a lot of confidence,” Sendek said. “He does have some good swag to his game. He has some experience. He is still learning our system especially on the defensive end, and that’s going to take some time.”

ASU’s style of defense of getting in the passing lanes and not allowing easy access to the paint throughout the game ended up being one of the key components for the win. Grand Canyon shot 6-25 (24 percent) from beyond the arc and only scored 24 points in the paint.

A lot of this was because of the ASU guards getting out in the face of the shooters and not allowing open looks.

“That was a big key for us coming into the game,” Lockett said. “We’ve been struggling with that and it’s one of the things we have definitely been working on in practice.”

What the team could not prepare for in practice was the aurora of the new Grand Canyon University Arena. The well-designed acoustics made it sound more like a rock concert than basketball game, and the athletic department’s promotions to get the students involved made it seem like an upset was expected from the crowd.

“Our guys know,” Sendek said. “Just this past week we saw Arizona and Butler lose games like this on their home courts. Games are very competitive; especially this early when no one has been practicing that much.”

GCU’s head coach Russ Pennell was gracious in defeat, pointing out how much it meant for the school to “pack the house” and open up the arena with ASU.


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