TUCSON — Different arena, same issues.
The ASU men’s basketball team has consistently kept a low turnover average throughout the season. Its 12.3 turnovers per game are the third-lowest average in the Pac-12.
That feat seems to be thrown out the window whenever the Sun Devils (20-11, 9-9 Pac-12) play UA.
ASU committed 17 turnovers in its 73-58 at UA (24-6, 12-6 Pac-12) Saturday. That number is the same total ASU gave up the ball in its other loss to the Wildcats in Tempe on Jan. 19.
ASU coach Herb Sendek liked the way his team shot in the game. The Sun Devils were 46.5 percent from the field compared to UA’s 44.4 percent, but Sendek pointed out ASU’s high turnover total as the Sun Devils’ downfall.
“That’s what determines who wins and who loses,” Sendek said.
The Wildcats also controlled the glass on both ends of the court, outrebounding the Sun Devils 35-23. UA collected 13 offensive
rebounds, which the Wildcats converted into 12 second-chance points.
Amid the Sun Devils’ rebounding and turnover woes, redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson and senior wing Carrick Felix tried to carry the team through most of the game, as they’ve done the last several games.
Carson and Felix together put up 19 of ASU’s 25 first-half points. Between the two of them, they finished with 37 points on 11-21 from the field.
“Those guys have been terrific all season,” Sendek said. “Once again today, I thought they just really laid it on the line. Both those men gave us everything they had. Couldn’t be more proud for their effort today, and for that matter, all season.”
The rest of the team put up just 21 points on 9-of-22 shooting.
The second half opened strangely. ASU started the half with a 15-point deficit, but the Wildcats collected seven team fouls in the first three minutes of the game, an event that angered the sold-out crowd at McKale Center.
But as an opportunity opened up for the Sun Devils, ASU threw virtually every one of them away with a turnover.
ASU eventually clawed back into the game down five with 10:46 left in the second half, but a 7-0 run led by UA sophomore guard Nick Johnson put the game out of reach for the Sun Devils.
Johnson finished the game with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
ASU caught up with UA in fouls deeper into the half, which hurt the Sun Devils more. Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling, junior center Jordan Bachynski and senior wing Chris Colvin all fouled out by picking up their fifth fouls within minutes of each other.
UA guard Nick Johnson finished with 17 points. When the Wildcats were up by five, Johnson scored all seven points on a 7-0 run that ultimately put the game out of ASU’s reach.
The Sun Devils head to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas Wednesday riding a three-game losing streak. With ASU losing too many games in the regular season to be considered for the NCAA Tournament, the Sun Devils understand they must win the Pac-12 Tournament to get in the Big Dance and the rest of the season has become a “win or go home” situation.
“We’re obviously in the outside looking in,” Sendek said.
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