Men’s hoops takes on hot-shooting Hartford

Junior guard Evan Gordon looks to the corner while driving to the basket in ASU’s 90-70 victory over Sacramento State on Dec. 1. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

Senior wing Carrick Felix will look to continue his hot start this season when the ASU men’s basketball team face Hartford on Wednesday.

Felix was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for his performances against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Sacramento State, both which resulted in ASU (6-1) victories. He collected his first career double-double, 21 points and a career-high 12 rebounds Saturday against the Hornets. He’s averaging 20.8 points and six rebounds in his last four games and shooting 66 percent from the floor.

Felix leads the team in 3-point shooting at 44 percent. He shot 31 percent from behind the arc last season.

“It definitely feels good,” Felix said. “I can definitely say it’s been a while. It’s been a long time coming. I’m just proud of myself, thank my teammates and thank God. It’s definitely a good accomplishment.”

The Sun Devils will face another undersized squad in the Hawks (4-3), something they’ve seen often in non-conference play. They had to defend five guards at times during ASU’s 90-70 win over Sacramento State. The tallest player listed on Hartford’s roster is 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Jamie Schneck.

“It forces guys who just aren’t used to playing the premier as much to do so,” Sendek said. “It starts in transition. Some of those coverages just aren’t as typical as you’d face once you get into conference play when once everybody is going to have at least one true frontcourt player. You have to adjust.”

ASU hasn’t exactly taken advantage of the mismatch this season, but it did show some strides against Sacramento State. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Hornets 47-36. Along with Felix’s 12 rebounds, freshman forward Eric Jacobsen had nine rebounds and sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling contributed seven boards.

“Rebounding and getting after 50-50 balls has not been a strength of our teams,” Sendek said. “Those are two areas that we must get better. I thought we showed the first sign of improvement against Sacramento State and hopefully, we can build off that.”

Sendek played Jacobsen when Sacramento State played five guards due to his high basketball IQ and footwork. It’ll be interesting to see if Hartford decides to play five guards. Junior forward Jordan Bachynski played just 18 minutes as a result of the five-guard lineup. He scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and grabbed five boards.

“We’ll have a problem with the matchup, but when it comes to Jordan, he’ll just have to play hard,” Felix said. “As long as he plays hard and we help him out on the defensive end, he’ll be fine because they’re going to have to guard him down there on their defensive end. That’s where we have the advantage.”

The Hawks spread the floor and can shoot the ball similar to Sacramento State. The Hawks have three players shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range — sophomore guard Yolonzo Moore II, sophomore guard Wes Cole and freshman guard Evan Cooper.

Hartford is on a three-game winning streak following its 48-45 victory over Holy Cross Saturday. Sophomore forward Mark Nwakamma led the team with 12 points. Moore II contributed 10 points and Cole added nine points off the bench. The Hawks took 54 shots and 30 were 3-pointers.

“They can really shoot the ball,” Felix said. “We just got to be ready with our assignments so we don’t get lost and off track. We really got to lock down the three-point shot tomorrow.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu