ASU men’s basketball finishes sixth at Wooden Legacy, finishes weekend 1-2

Senio guard Jermaine Marshall jumps towards the net during a game against Maruette. (Photo by Vince Dwyer)

Senior guard Jermaine Marshall jumps towards the net during a game against Marquette. ASU men’s basketball finished sixth at the Wooden Legacy this weekend. (Photo by Vince Dwyer)

The ASU men’s basketball team finished its action at the Wooden Legacy tournament last weekend 1-2.

 

ASU falls to Creighton 88-60

It’s hard to imagine the Sun Devils (7-2) were thankful for their performance against the Bluejays (5-2) on Thanksgiving.

ASU suffered its first lost of the season to a team that proved to be a bad matchup for the Sun Devils.

Much like the two teams’ meeting last year in the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational, Creighton stormed out to a 24-9 lead thanks to senior forward Doug McDermott’s hot start. The Sun Devils went on several small runs and seemed to mount a comeback in a few instances before the Bluejays defused them with big shots.

The Bluejays hit seven 3-pointers over the Sun Devils. ASU shot just 37.9 percent from the field. One anomaly of the Sun Devils’ performance, however, is that the Sun Devils outrebounded the Bluejays 36-30.

It was a rough game for ASU redshirt sophomore Jahii Carson as he tried to match McDermott, a fellow All-American candidate. Although Carson had 15 points, he shot just 5-of-12 from the field and gave up five turnovers.

ASU senior center Jordan Bachynski ran into foul trouble early and sat out much of the first half. Despite getting three blocks, Bachynski finished with only four points and two rebounds in 18 minutes.

 

Sun Devils bounce back against College of Charleston, 80-58

After going through two road games without hitting a 3-pointer, ASU junior forward Jonathan Gilling finally got hot from the arc, sinking five threes for 15 points on Friday.

Gilling’s resurgence was just one of the things that were going again for the Sun Devils.

ASU had a slow start against College of Charleston (4-5), but the Sun Devils pulled away to blow out the Cougars 80-58.

“I’m really proud of our team, the way we bounced back,” coach Herb Sendek said. “It was a real quick turnaround.”

The Sun Devils shot better from the field with a clip of 53.7 percent and were 14-of-16 from the free-throw line. ASU held Charleston down to 35.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from the perimeter.

Carson bounced back and dropped 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting with seven assists. Bachynski (16 points) and freshman forward Egor Koulechov (12) were the other two Sun Devils who finished the game with double-digit points. Carson and Bachynski both twisted their ankle in the second half but returned.

Despite the blowout, Charleston owned the boards and outrebounded ASU 41-24. The Cougars’ 18 offensive rebounds were five less than what they grabbed on the defensive end.

 

ASU drops last game to Miami (FL), 60-57

How valuable is Carson to the Sun Devils? ASU’s last game in the Wooden Legacy showed how much it needs its star point guard.

Carson had eight points in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Hurricanes (5-3) but sprained his right ankle before halftime.

Despite ASU being up 10 points in the first half, the Sun Devils blew the lead and ended up losing to Miami 60-57.

Carson came back in the second half and tried to play through the ankle sprain, but he didn’t have enough lift to explode to the basket and make layups. He finished the game shooting 2-for-24 from the field and didn’t record a single basket in the second half. His eight points was his second-lowest scoring performance of his career.

The Sun Devils had another dismal shooting performance, as they shot 39.2 percent from the field.

Bachynski had a big game inside and had a final statline of 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Senior guard Jermaine Marshall, who had been battling knee problems, had his best game of the tournament and had 14 points that included three 3-pointers.

Miami freshman guard Davon Reed had 19 points for the Hurricanes.

 

The skinny

The last three games showed how vulnerable ASU could be if any of its big three — Carson, Bachynski and Marshall — get taken out of the equation in one way or another. Although they get help, the rest of the roster making up the Sun Devils’ depth looks inexperienced and isn’t ready yet to compensate in those situations. ASU seems to be immobile against teams that play physical man-on-man defense and continue to struggle inside — especially whenever Bachynski is forced to sit out.

Throughout the bad times, the two bright spots on ASU were Koulechov and senior forward Richie Edwards.

Koulechov continues to exert himself into a bigger role of Sendek’s rotation by securing rebounds, hitting shots and making hustle plays. He appears to have won the permanent starting job at the three-spot over senior forward Shaquielle McKissic, who has been recently struggling to the point where he didn’t even play in the Miami game. Koulechov had a total of 21 points and 11 rebounds in the tournament.

Edwards played just 35 minutes before logging a total of 34 minutes at the Wooden Legacy and was the backup center over sophomore Eric Jacobsen. When Bachynski left the Creighton game due to foul trouble, Edwards had a respectable performance defending the Blue Jays’ versatile big men and record 12 points of his own. Edwards’ performance the next two games plummeted, as the only stat he had was a foul in each game in 11 minutes.

Edwards brings a small boost of energy whenever he checks in, but it’s clear he still has ways to go before he can be a reliable backup big man for Sendek.

The Sun Devils don’t play again until Friday when they travel to DePaul, the team against which ASU suffered an embarrassing 78-61 loss to at home last season. A four-day rest should help the Sun Devils rejuvenate and heal those nagging injuries from the Wooden Legacy going into the rematch.

 

 

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion