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Win gives men’s hoops a boost before UCLA

Tip drill: ASU freshman forward Kyle Cain goes up for a layup against UA on Feb. 13 in Tempe. After stopping a nine-game losing streak last Saturday against Washington State, the Sun Devils have had more energy in recent practices. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)
Tip drill: ASU freshman forward Kyle Cain goes up for a layup against UA on Feb. 13 in Tempe. After stopping a nine-game losing streak last Saturday against Washington State, the Sun Devils have had more energy in recent practices. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Herb Sendek never strayed from the course.

His personality and mood never changed from the start of the season, even at the low point of a long losing streak.

So, why would it be any different after a long coveted victory?

“It does provide you that momentary thrill,” Sendek said. “You feel good about it, but the way our sport works, the next game is pouncing upon you and you have to prepare again.”

Sendek feels that few practices following the win were the same as they were during the losing streak.

“We had a really good practice on Friday, I mean a really good practice,” Sendek said. “Yesterday the guys got right back at it and were very typical.”

While practices were always said to be good by the players, they now feel an added boost.

“There is a lot of energy in the locker room right now,” ASU freshman guard Keala King said. “Practice was a lot more fun. Since we won against Washington State there has been a lot of energy. We were doing drills with a lot of compassion.”

Senior guard Jamelle McMillan has said all along that winning one game could propel the team and set them off on a roll. He continues to feel that could be true.

“It might have,” McMillan said. “The energy we had yesterday in practice, who knows how the ball will bounce. We had some guys come in and take advantage of some opportunities.

“We know what it’s like to win now. The preparation will be a lot different this week.”

ASU’s victory over WSU may have knocked the Cougars out of the tournament field and the Sun Devils can now severely hurt UCLA’s chances on Thursday.

With an RPI of 152, a loss to ASU is a big blow to any team’s tournament hopes.

McMillan isn’t concerned about playing spoiler, he just wants to win.

“It is all about us,” McMillan said. “Doing the little things and the simple things very well, if we are able to cover the basics and the fundamentals of the game like we did on Saturday, everything should take care of itself.”

Really there is no pressure on ASU, something that they certainly could use to their advantage.

“The main thing is to just have fun,” McMillan said. “It felt like everyone was having fun and then everybody sees that and feeds off of that.”

An added motivation for the senior class on Saturday against USC will be to try and win in the only Pac-10 arena they haven’t been victorious in throughout their careers.

McMillan, Rihards Kuksiks and Ty Abbott's class has won in every conference building except the Galen Center.

It would be another small victory for ASU, but expect Sendek to be his steady self, win or lose.

“A win always feels better than a loss does,” Sendek said. “Every game is very consuming and when you win it tends to produce that momentarily thrill.”

Reach the reporter at andrew.gruman@asu.edu

Thursday’s game

Sun Devils at Bruins

When: 9 p.m.

Where: Los Angeles

UCLA update: The Bruins had won six straight games before an overtime loss to Cal on Feb. 20. In Tempe on Jan. 29, UCLA defeated ASU by one point in another overtime game.


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