LAS VEGAS — This is one trip to Las Vegas the ASU men’s basketball team would like to forget.
The third-seeded Sun Devils’ favorable luck in Sin City turned against them this time around, as ASU (21-11, 10-8 Pac-12) fell to No. 6 Stanford 79-58 in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday.
By earning a first-round bye, the Sun Devils’ hoped they could make a run to the Pac-12 Tournament championship.
That goal ended three nights short.
“Our plan was to win a Pac-12 Tournament,” ASU senior center Jordan Bachynski said. “We didn’t do that, and it’s tough. Not where we want to be.”
ASU’s woes from the last several weeks carried over to Thursday on another basketball court away from Tempe. A 7-0 run from Stanford, (21-11, 10-8 Pac-12) in which the Sun Devils missed their first eight shots, doomed ASU from the start.
“It started from the first possession of the game,” said coach Herb Sendek, referring to Bachynski’s missed layup. “We had the ball two feet from the basket and we don’t score. I don’t know what more you could say.”
ASU junior center Eric Jacobsen picked up three fouls in just two minutes of play. Stanford capitalized on Jacobsen’s absence and hurt ASU with ball penetration, putting the Sun Devils down 18-8 with 12:34 left in the first half. The Cardinal assigned redshirt junior wing Anthony Brown on redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson for the start of the game, which slowed Carson down.
“We haven’t had great starts to games,” Bachynski said. “Actually, we’ve had horrible starts to games the last three games, and that’s something we need to address and figure out what’s going on, and we need to adjust accordingly.”
But the Sun Devils started to pick up some life at the midway point of the half. Barnes and Gilling came alive for ASU and each scored 10 points by halftime. ASU finally tied the game at 27 with 54 seconds left in the half off Barnes’ 3-pointer, but Stanford senior forward John Gage hit a 3-pointer that gave the Cardinal a 30-27 edge at halftime.
“We just need to get back to playing Sun Devil basketball … There were certain points in this game we were doing that, and that’s when we closed the gap right before halftime,” Bachynski said. “We were playing our type of ball.”
It got even worse for ASU in the second half. The Cardinal jumped back out to a double-digit lead and held it for most of the second half. ASU shot 38 percent from the field in the first half, and it only improved by six percent in the second half.
“We have had the life sucked out of us by our inability to convert some opportunities on offense,” Sendek said.
Sendek subbed out Bachynski with 12:44 left in the game but didn’t replace him with Jacobsen, moving Gilling to center. Neither Bachynski nor Jacobsen returned for the rest of the game. The experiment didn’t work, though, as Stanford outrebounded ASU even more and easily got to the rim on several possessions.
“We were having a hard time as we had in the past with Jordan guarding (senior forward Dwight) Powell on the perimeter, so we at that point decided to at least try something else,” Sendek said. “Obviously, it didn’t work a great deal.”
Carson, who averages 28.8 points in games played in Las Vegas, only had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting and four assists. Senior guard Jermaine Marshall had just four points on 2-of-8 shooting and didn’t make a 3-pointer. Bachynski finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Stanford senior point guard Chasson Randle led the way for the Cardinal with 21 points and four rebounds. Powell added 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Stanford will face No. 2 UCLA, who defeated No. 7 Oregon 82-63, in the semifinals Friday.
Emotions were drained out of ASU’s locker room after the game, and answers varied among the players on whether they still think they’ll make the NCAA Tournament. No matter where the Sun Devils go, they’ll have to recharge their confidence in order to be successful moving forward.
“We got to press ‘reset’ and look forward,” Carson said. “We can’t stress and get down on ourselves. We have a three-game losing streak, things happen, so we just having to look positive toward the future.”
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