Carson’s speed kills
Redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson is on another level when he can push the ball like he did in ASU’s 72-62 win over Oregon State Thursday.
There aren’t many players in basketball that can run the floor as fast as Carson. Teams tried to take that away from him, but there were spurts where he was able to get the court in a hurry. Carson cranked it up Thursday against a team that likes to run as well. The second bucket he made, Carson went the length of the floor in about five seconds. OSU couldn’t get a body in front of him and he scored an easy layup. Expect this to happen with ASU’s next two opponents – Oregon and UA. They’re two of the best teams in the conference and like to run as well.
Carson finished with 20 points and four assists on 9-of-19 shooting. It’s his sixth 20-point game this season. He only two turnovers in the game as well as the team finished with just nine. He ha trimmed the turnovers significantly in conference play. There was going to be a learning curve for him, but it’s great timing for ASU that he’s able to adjust and take care of the basketball in Pac-12 play.
Felix’s ball handling skills
As much as Felix has dramatically improved in all areas, he’s a much better ballhandler this season. He told The State Press at Media Day and during the gold-and-maroon scrimmage that he emphasized on improving his handles during the offseason.
The turnaround, like the way Felix has played this season, is remarkable. There were times during Felix’s career where he’d attempt to drive to the paint and didn’t have control of the basketball. The result in most cases weren’t pretty.
During Thursday game, he had one of his best drives in his career as shown at the 50-second mark. Felix drove baseline and blew right past junior forward Devon Collier with his left hand. He took off just before he stepped in the paint and flushed it down.
Felix collected his fifth double-double Thursday. He posted 18 points, on 7-of-14 shooting, and matched his career-high of 14 rebounds.
“I don’t want to say I told you so, but you could see it coming (with Felix),” coach Herb Sendek said after the game on ASU’s website. “Just because of his commitment, his approach, and the habits he is forming. I guess nothing is ever predictable, but if anything was, perhaps Carrick’s play. So far it is matching up with his daily approach over an extended period of time. All of the qualities that any coach would want a player to ideally posses, he has.”
Crashing the boards
Oregon State played without sophomore forward Eric Moreland, who ranks second in the Pac-12 in rebounding with 11.1 rebounds a game, and ASU had its biggest rebound differential this season. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Beavers 49-35, including 16 offensive boards.
It was a team effort as well, something coach Sendek stresses on the glass. While Felix led with 14, junior center Jordan Bachynski had nine, sophomore Jonathan Gilling had six and senior guard Chris Colvin had five off the bench.
Junior guard Evan Gordon has struggled with his shot in conference play. He scored three points, on 1-of-3 shooting, but he was able to grab four boards – three offensive rebounds.
The best rebounding stat goes to senior center Ruslan Pateev. He played just seven minutes but grabbed five rebounds. Two of the five rebounds were on the offensive glass. Pateev has played well recently, which gives Sendek another big option in the frontcourt when Bachynski needs a break or gets in foul trouble.
Free throw woes
It hasn’t bit them yet, but ASU can’t keep up its performance at the free-throw line this season.
The Sun Devils went 8-of-18, 44.4 percent, at the charity stripe. Felix went 2-of-7, Bachynski went 4-of-9, while Gilling and Carson both made their only free-throw attempts.
They’re last in the Pac-12 in free-throw percentage, making just 61.6 percent this season. Entering this week, ASU was 313th in the country in free-throw percentage. Only 32 teams in the country shoot worse at the line than the Sun Devils.
They’re getting to the line as well. Before Thursday’s contest, ASU was third in the conference in free-throw attempts. Their opponents have shot five more free throws than ASU has made this season.
It’s the biggest issue on this team and it will cost them a game down the road if it doesn’t get fixed.
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