Men’s hoops seeks better execution vs. Sac State

Senior wing Carrick Felix dribbles around an Arkansas-Pine Bluff defender in ASU’s 67-54 victory on Wednesday night. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Coach Herb Sendek wasn’t pleased with the ASU men’s basketball team’s performance Wednesday.

He thought the Sun Devils (5-1) could’ve performed better in their 67-54 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They’ll get their chance to bounce back Saturday against Sacramento State at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils will look to execute their offense and control the tempo. Both of those elements were absent against a pretty bad Golden Lions squad, as the Sun Devils posted their second lowest scoring total this season.

“These games are important games and require great intensity and concentration,” Sendek said. “We made that perfectly clear to our guys, and every night around the country, we’re reminded of that. We just didn’t play anywhere where we’re capable of playing.”

ASU shot 30.4 percent in the first half and was down 27-25 at halftime. It was jacking up three-point shots to start the game rather than working the offense against Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s 3-2 and 2-3 zones. Senior wing Carrick Felix was the only player in an offensive rhythm throughout the game with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

Sendek said ASU’s offensive approach is the same against man or zone and ASU worked on the different schemes during practice.

“You have to be ready to play every single night in college basketball, and the minute you don’t, you are very vulnerable, and you’re treading dangerous waters,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for too long, and I’ve seen too many games. I’ve been on both sides of those games.”

The Sun Devils will have another size advantage against the Hornets (5-1). The tallest player listed on their roster is 6-foot-9. It should serve well for 7-foot-2 junior center Jordan Bachynski, but he hasn’t exactly taken advantage of the mismatches he’s received this season.

While he’s averaging 11.8 points a game, he’s struggled to get position around the low blocks. Felix at times told Bachynski to post up during possessions Wednesday. Bachynski scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting Wednesday.

“Our coaches have really been stressing going inside,” Bachynski said. “I’m trying to post up, but sometimes the guards aren’t seeing me. Carrick is just remind me, ‘Keep posting up and we’ll find you.’”

Bachynski said ASU hasn’t reached its potential in rebounding. UAPB outrebounded the Sun Devils, 38-37.  ASU averages the same amount of rebounds per game as its opponents, 38.8. Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling surprisingly leads the team in rebounding with 8.8 a game.

“Jon has definitely stepped up, but I need to do a better job rebounding,” Bachynski said.

Sacramento State grabs 38 boards a game and has a 2.8 edge over its opponents. Its football team has a reputation to upset a Pac-12 squad in non-conference play, but the basketball team can do the same, as it has already displayed this season. The Hornets defeated Utah 74-71 on the road. Sophomore guard Dylan Garrity had a team-high 19 points in the win.

The Hornets 2-0 this season on the road with a 71-68 win over Central Arkansas last week. Senior forward John Dickson leads the team with 17.3 points a contest.

“We just got to be ready to play every game,” Felix said. “Not every game is going to be as easy as it seems. Not every game is going to be there for us to just take. We got to work.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu