Senior center Ruslan Pateev has given the Arizona State men’s basketball team solid minutes off the bench during Pac-12 play.
He cranked up his efforts to an abnormal level Thursday, helping the Sun Devils (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12) defeat Cal 66-62 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Pateev tied his career-high of 12 points in 26 minutes off the bench against the Golden Bears (13-9, 5-5 Pac-12). He played 15 minutes in the second half as coach Herb Sendek rode the hot hand at center.
“I was really tired,” Pateev said.
He has only played over 20 minutes once this season before Thursday’s contest.
“I was tired but I know I had to keep playing, and I had to fight with my mind and that would help be on the floor that long,” Pateev said.
Pateev’s layup with 8:24 left in the game stretched ASU’s lead to 15, but it only diminished from that point.
Cal went on a 14-2 run in seven minutes to trim the deficit to 62-59 with 1:16 left. Freshman guard Tyrone Wallace scored nine of his 16 points during that stretch. He was 7-of-11 from the floor and also grabbed eight rebounds.
Junior guard Justin Cobbs, the team’s second leading scorer, was relatively quiet until he hit two big three-pointers to keep Cal down by a possession.
His most clutch shot occurred with 24 seconds left to make it a two-point game.
Junior guard Evan Gordon split a pair of free throws on the next possession. It set up a chance for Cal to tie the game, but junior guard Allen Crabbe turned the ball over. It was his second turnover in the final minute of the game.
Crabbe ended the night with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Crabbe also had five of Cal’s 18 turnovers.
Gordan said the team can’t let teams back into games at the end.
“We just kind of had a breakdown at the end,” Gordon said. “We got to learn to not play the end of the game like that. We got to finish the game with focus and poise in what we do.”
ASU has limited its turnovers in conference play. So it was about as surprising as Pateev’s play to see the Sun Devils commit 17 turnovers Thursday. It’s the most in five games, since ASU committed 17 turnovers against Arizona on Jan. 19.
The Sun Devils also struggled to adapt offensively when Cal switched from back and forth from man and zone defenses in the final eight minutes of the game.
“Coming out of the eight-minute timeout, we wanted to finish in a better fashion,” Sendek said. “I didn’t think we responded too well when they changed defenses, didn’t convert some free throws as well as some transition opportunities.”
Gordon was the main catalyst offensively for the Sun Devils, dropping a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. It’s the fourth game this season he’s scored over 20 points. Gordon has also shot over 50 percent from the floor in five of the last seven games.
Gordon carried a load on a night when redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson and senior wing Carrick Felix scored a combined 20 points. Felix had 8 points and five rebounds while Carson scored 12 points, on 4-of-12 shooting, with three assists and five turnovers.
“If you have a really good team and you can have other guys create balance, you become that much more difficult to defend,” Sendek said.
The Sun Devils are now tied for second place with Oregon and UCLA in the Pac-12 and just a game behind Arizona for first.
They’ll face Stanford Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. on ESPNU and 620 AM.
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