When asked what needs to improve during the final three games of the regular season, coach Herb Sendek simply said “everything.”
Junior guard Trent Lockett was asked the same question, and noted the team has made the same mistakes since December.
The Sun Devils (8-19, 4-11 Pac-12) have little to play for against UCLA on Thursday, sitting at 10th place in the Pac-12.
But the team continues to hold an upbeat attitude in what will be the program’s second consecutive losing season.
“There’s no reason to not be positive,” Sendek said. “I mean, what are you going to do? Are you going to walk around and show the world that you’re miserable because things aren’t going the way you expected or the way you would like? Where does that get you? We just refuse to do that, and that’s just a choice.”
Sendek used the end of the season as a teaching lesson. Practices were heavily focused on fundamentals, something that wasn’t exactly on display in the first half of Saturday’s game against Washington State.
ASU scored just eight points and turned the ball over 10 times prior to halftime.
“That’s way too high, and it leads to easy baskets for the opponent,” Sendek said.
Somehow, the Sun Devils racked up 42 points in the second half and nearly drew a blowout 72–50 loss to single digits.
“We’ve got ourselves in holes and we’ve responded fairly well,” Lockett said. “We’ve shown that we can play with these teams, obviously. The Pac-12 is down this year, but it’s upsetting because we show what we can do. We just don’t bring it all the time.”
Inconsistent play and lack of bodies hurt ASU all season, including its first meeting with the Bruins (15-12, 8-6 Pac-12) on Jan. 7. ASU played without dismissed sophomore guard Keala King, suspended junior guard Chris Colvin and suspended sophomore forward Kyle Cain.
The Sun Devils kept it close in the first half, down just two points despite the circumstances. But the short bench caught up to them and the team fell 75–58.
It was the start of a seven-game losing streak on the road for ASU.
“After games, we can hang our heads or go into practice and work hard and try to get another win in the next game,” Lockett said. “I’m not quite used to it, but these last few years have been extremely tough.”
The Sun Devils will look to snap a three-game losing streak as well on Thursday. It’s the fourth time they’ve had a string of three or more consecutive losses. They have yet to pile up back-to-back wins this season.
“When you’re winning, problems that you may have now aren’t very big problems and people overlook it,” Lockett said. “But when you’re losing, it takes a lot of character to keep coming every day and to be a team and continue to work hard.”
Tipoff is scheduled at 6 p.m. on FoxSportsArizona.com and 620 AM.
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