Sun Devils limping into Baylor game

It's not enough that ASU played three games in three days sandwiched between a roundtrip to Alaska, but the maroon and gold are also far from being 100 percent healthy. The timing could not be worse as they go on the road face to possibly face the best team they will play all year – 11th ranked Baylor.

In the Great Alaska Shootout tournament Trent Lockett injured his hip in the Weber State game, guard/forward Rihards Kuksiks suffered a hyper extended elbow, and forward Kyle Cain bruised his knee.

All three players did not miss any of the trio of games up north and their bumps and bruises pale in comparison to guard Ty Abbott, who missed the first game of that tournament with a knee contusion. To top it off, the senior wasn't able to fly back home with the team as he transported from the Anchorage airport and was hospitalized overnight as he was treated for dehydration.

All the aforementioned players are expected to play as Arizona State continues its challenging non-conference schedule with a Thursday night road game in Waco, Tex. to face a very skillful Bears squad.

"They're not ranked (11th) in the country for no reason; they're good," head coach Herb Sendek said. "They are so talented it is amazing, they are long, they rebound, they block shots, and they have one of the elite guards in the country."

The Sun Devil skipper was referring to senior guard LaceDarius Dunn, who ASU held last year to just 7 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but is now averaging 22.0 ppg after sitting out the season's first three games due to suspension.

ASU finished 2-1 in the Great Alaska Shootout and Sendek indicated that those contests were able to provide ASU with a "bushel" of feedback on his squad.

"We had ample opportunity to learn a great deal about ourselves," Sendek remarked. "We spent yesterday (Monday) reviewing the film and going through things meticulously. Hopefully all those experiences will be learning and growing strides for us.

"We're learning the truth about ourselves at an early stage. There's nothing that's being swept under the carpet. There's nothing that's being camouflaged. We're learning the good, the bad and the ugly very transparently right out of the gates."

Through five games this season the Sun Devils have been collectively holding their opponents to 42.3 percent shooting, a stat that in encouraging to Sendek.

"I think schematically our guys are really starting to understand their coverages," Sendek acknowledged. "I think we are doing a pretty good job X's and O's wise. Some of our great challenges though are from a fundamental standpoint. But it's not the patterns or the plays that are beating us right now, but we just need continued work and that's not atypical no matter what defense you play."

ASU's lone loss in Anchorage was a 67-58 defeat at the hands of St. John's. The Red Storm trailed by ten points at halftime, but late in the second stanza and in a matter of 32 seconds they went on an 8-0 run to reclaim the lead for good. It was sequence that featured poor rebounding and ball handling by ASU.

"It wasn't so much a function of breakdown just against the press," Sendek explained, "but just handling pressure. A number of our turnovers actually came in the front court where it was just one-on-one coverage and the (St. John's player) said ‘give me the ball' and we gave it to him. We had one turnover where we got trapped in the middle of the floor which is really an impossible place to get trapped. We had one inbounds miscue where we had somebody open and we didn't throw it to them.

"Most of the turnovers we had it wouldn't have mattered if we were pressing or not. It's like at school when the bully takes your lunch money and you can't get milk at lunch because you keep on giving him your lunch money and that's what we did. So, that's what happened. We gave the bully our lunch money and we didn't get any milk."

So how will the Sun Devil counteract that issue in the future?

"We just have to be aware, a little more determined for that not to happen," Sendek replied. "I don't think it's a function of our skill or our ability."

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