Devils falter down the stretch

On a night where Ty Abbott, Rik Kuksiks, and Trent Lockett combined for 54 of the team's 61, the trio still couldn't will the team to victory in the 63-61 loss to the Trojans as rebounding and poor free throw shooting continue to plague the Sun Devils.

"Just came down to plays at the end," Abbott pointed out. "They made plays, their guys hit big shots and we had Rik, he tried to do it there by himself there towards the end, and we needed more than that."

After leading for the first 25 minutes of the game, carried by Abbott's 11 at the half, the Sun Devils were desperate for someone to step up and hit shots down the stretch, and Kuksiks did just that knocking down three straight threes in the final minutes of the game.

"I had a good practice week," Kuksiks admitted. "I just feel comfortable now and I'm just trying to help my team. My teammates get me open and just pass the ball and all I have to do is make the basket."

But it didn't take long for the Trojans to catch on, and once they did the Sun Devils went cold.

"We got Rik some good shots towards the end, and he was going for us and they started to key on him and we kind of stopped moving," Abbott mentioned. "Once we couldn't get Rik open it was kind of like ‘what do we do now?' We've just got to keep going and keep grinding with our motion and get good shots."

Trailing by two late, the Sun Devils' final two possessions were in the hands of Abbott, but unfortunately for ASU, one of their stars of the night wasn't able to convert on either attempt, sealing the victory for USC.

Abbott was posted up on the second-to-last possession, but threw it away on a pass to Kyle Cain, and when USC missed a free throw to keep the Sun Devils within two, Abbott found the ball in his hands once again with only .5 seconds remaining.

"I caught it clean," Abbott said of the attempt. "It's a pretty tough shot, just something you kind of play around with doing at the end of practice or something, but I just tried to give it my best shot."

While it was a turn-around three-point attempt that ended the game for the Sun Devils, missing 13 free throws and being out-rebounded 12 was detrimental.

While free throw shooting has hindered the Sun Devils all year, it was especially crucial tonight considering how close the final score ended up being. When asked what the problem has been at the line, Abbott gave no real explanation.

"We've just got to get up there and knock them down," Abbott declared. "I missed two big ones in the end and one in the first half as well. If you just count my three right there it's game, we win. You've just got to go up there and knock them down."

Now at 9-11 (1-7 Pac-10), the Sun Devils need to come together as a team for this season to end on a high note, still, not many expected the team to be where they are at this point before the season started, and the players aren't an exception.

"It's rough," Abbott said bluntly. "It's something none of us are used to. Obviously coming in we had higher expectations. It's just something you have to work with; it's life you know?

"Adversity, you've got to figure out a way to get over it, get around it, whatever you've got to do, under it, whatever you've got to do. That's pretty much where we're at right now just trying to get over this little hump and get a win. Try to get rolling and get guys confidence going and things like that."

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