Redshirt freshman Jahii Carson and junior guard Evan Gordon could only do so much.
ASU fell to No. 7 UA 71-54 Saturday in a packed Wells Fargo Arena.
Carson and Gordon combined for 36 points for the Sun Devils (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12). Carson dropped 22 on 7-of-13 shooting, giving him eight 20-point games this season. Gordon had 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
The game changed when Carson picked up his fourth foul with 9:50 left in the game. ASU was down 46-44 at the time of the foul and he was substituted out for sophomore guard Bo Barnes. The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Pac-12) went on a 9-0 run in 84 seconds.
Carson returned to the game with 8:06 left but he wasn’t as aggressive defensively due to his foul situation.
“I think it changed tremendously,” Carson said of his foul trouble. “I mostly keep the point guards in front of me but with me being in foul trouble, iit puts my teammates in awkward positions to get out there and guard a smaller guard who can get in the paint and can create just as much as I can. I think it had a huge swing.”
The Wildcats took advantage of Carson’s foul trouble as their back court continued to attack him.
Senior guard Mark Lyons had a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Sophomore guard Nick Johnson contributed 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
“He (Lyons) continues getting better and better playing the point guard position, and really Nick is a combo guy as well,” UA coach Sean Miller said. “A lot of times Nick probably doesn’t get enough credit for being almost like a point guard out there, whether he’s with Mark or not. We have two guys that run our team and play that role with us.”
Senior wing Carrick Felix had an off day offensively. He played nearly the entire game yet scored five points. He went 1-for-7 on three-pointers and his missed his only attempt inside the three-point line.
Felix had a chance to cut UA’s lead down to eight with 2:39 left in the game but missed two open three-pointers during one possession.
“They’re definitely a good team and well coached, but I just needed to show up for my team and I didn’t do that today,” Felix said. “I had a rough game but they just kept telling me to take my shots to stay in the game and keep my head in there. Me as a leader, I just got to pick it up. Good thing tomorrow’s a new day.”
Felix had seven of ASU’s 17 turnovers. He wasn’t the only one in the frontcourt that didn’t play well.
Junior Jordan Bachynski was quiet with three points, six rebounds and three turnovers.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling had 21 points in the season finale win over the Wildcats last year. He fouled out Saturday with six points and four rebounds.
Senior forward Solomon Hill nearly produced just as much as ASU’s frontcourt combined. He had 13 points, on 6-of-11 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists.
“We did not get a lot of baskets inside,” coach Herb Sendek said. “We had some layups off some different action but in terms of our post people, we had two baskets. They do a good job of going inside to Hill, who’s a tough matchup and a guy that can play inside-out.”
The Sun Devils are now 0-2 against ranked opponents. Their other loss came against Creighton in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Senior guard Chris Colvin was suspended due to violating team rules. It’s his third suspension during his two seasons at ASU. Colvin’s status is unknown for ASU’s game against USC Thursday.
“Chris plays a really important role for us,” Sendek said. “We rely on his defensive toughness. We rely on his ball handling and play making. He’s having a really good senior year for us. We’ll get through this and come back.”
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