There seem to be two polarizing teams that play for ASU men’s basketball.
There’s the team in white that perfectly executes on offense at home and gets a balanced contribution from just about every player. Then there’s the team wearing maroon that is turnover prone, plays with no rhythm and struggles to put points on the board.
The last two weeks have been a tale of these two teams for the Sun Devils (21-9, 10-7 Pac-12). ASU had its worst shooting performance at Colorado on Feb. 19 before getting blown out at Utah on Feb. 23. The Sun Devils turned it around by locking down Stanford on Feb. 26 and routing California last Saturday.
Everything seemed to be going the team’s way again until it lost to Oregon 85-78 Tuesday.
ASU coach Herb Sendek said last week that even he couldn’t describe how the team plays significantly worse on the road. The team hasn’t won on the road since beating California on Jan. 29. ASU is only 5-8 away from Tempe this season, with its other wins coming against UNLV, DePaul, College of Charleston and USC.
The Sun Devils’ inability to get wins on the road showed on Tuesday when the team shot 38 percent against the Ducks. ASU also turned the ball over 10 times, which turned into 12 points off turnovers for Oregon compared to only three for ASU. The Sun Devils appeared to be rattled and out of control after the opening tipoff, which paved the way for Oregon to break out on its 15-0 run to start the game.
ASU immediately went on a 16-2 run of its own and got to the free-throw line to stay in the game. The Sun Devils had several open shots in the second half, but they just couldn’t hit them to take the lead away from Oregon.
ASU has been getting some consistent contributions from a couple of players. Redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson had another signature road game by scoring 28 points of 10-of-19 shooting and going 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. Redshirt junior guard Bo Barnes, who had 11 points at Utah, scored 13 of ASU’s 16 points off the bench and continues to play well on the road.
Other than Barnes and Carson, everyone else seems to be wild cards on the road, including senior center Jordan Bachynski, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds on Tuesday.
Sendek meant it when he said on Feb. 25 that his rotation is still not set. Carson played 38 minutes at point guard on Tuesday, and Bachynski, senior guard Jermaine Marshall, senior forward Shaquielle McKissic and junior forward Jonathan Gilling all logged 30 or more minutes against Oregon.
Sendek tried using redshirt freshman Calaen Robinson and freshman Chance Murray at point guard, but neither of them played more than a minute, and both went scoreless.
Sophomore Eric Jacobsen, who started the game at power forward, only played four minutes the entire game, despite only having two fouls.
ASU’s road woes shouldn’t be too much of a concern heading into the Pac-12 Tournament, as the Sun Devils play noticeably better in Las Vegas. The team beat Stanford in the first round of last year’s conference tournament before losing a close game to UCLA. Carson is averaging 28.8 points per game there and scored 40 points at UNLV back on Nov. 19 this season.
A first round bye in this year’s Pac-12 Tournament is at stake for ASU in its last road game as the Sun Devils travel to Oregon State on Saturday. The Beavers are 11-3 at Gill Coliseum.
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