Familiar shortcomings plague ASU

The Sun Devils suffered their 7th Pac-10 loss of the season on Thursday night in Tempe. Falling 63-61 to the USC Trojans, the Sun Devils struggle to find the key to turning their season around. Against the Trojans, the maroon and gold we plagued but their typical woes.

The battle with the Trojans went down to the last second and with their last chance to tie the game and .5 seconds remaining on the clock; the maroon and gold were unable to capitalize.

"We didn't have a real good angle because the ball was kind of low on the sidelines," Head Coach Herb Sendek said. "One of the options on the play was to try to get Carrick something at the rim but its hard to ascertain what Jamelle was able to see in that situation. You're dealing with .5 seconds so, at .3 you're not even allowed to shoot it, you have to tap it, so .5 you have to take a quick, almost rushed shot so its not a great position to be in."

With three Sun Devils scoring 54 of their 61 total points, the Sun Devils lack balance on their young team. After a slow start to the season, senior Rihards Kuksiks seemed to be back on track with a 22-point performance against the Trojans.

"Balance is always good," Sendek commented. "Their team basically had the same thing with three guys leading the way. I think Rik had his best week at practice. He, really for the first week all season, is starting to feel good, he has really worked through a high-ankle sprain and his knee has been bothering him.

"He has been playing but not feeling good, he's really just starting to feel good and he had his best week at practice. As you know, he had not been starting and we put him back in the starting lineup and he really played a terrific game for us. Obviously Ty and Trent chipped in as well."

Another area that the maroon and gold have lacked consistency this season is at the free throw line shooting only 48% from the line.

"I was once asked that another year when my team wasn't making free throws and someone even asked if we practiced them," Sendek said. "I will just take this opportunity to let you know that we do practice them, our guys have goals they have to make everyday and we consider it an important part of the game."

With a total of 24 rebounds during tonight's matchup, the Sun Devils continue to battle at the boards but more often than not come up empty handed.

"Rebounding continues to be a real challenge for us," Sendek admitted. "I don't know what the percents break down to, but its sometimes a little misleading when you look at total rebound numbers but without having those percentages in front of me, they missed 26 shots, they got 10 back and I don't think they got any second shots on free throws. I would have liked to have gotten more of those back but they held us to only 5 second shots but rebounding is not a strength of our team right now and that perhaps has put us behind the eight ball together with our struggles to defend front courts.

"Once again, the other team's inside game really hurt us. (Nikola) Vucevic is a tremendous player, he is really good and despite us trying to double him, he still game down with 26 and 12. We were able to turn it over a few times with the trap but his presence in the post not only resulted in 26 points for him but it made all the guys around him all that much better because he is a good passer and he was forcing us to get two on the ball."

Now 1-7 in the Pac-10, the Sun Devils will face an uphill battle for the remainder of the season. Sendek is confident that his team will remain positive and work together to overcome their adversity.

"I have ever expectation because of the character quotient on our team that we will be resilient," Sendek stated. "Our guys will continue to work hard and pull together. That will be my expectation and I really have every confidence that they will do that; they've always done that. That's a product of having really good character guys in your team.

"It's a painful voyage right now, I think we all share, we all feel it but we're going to go through it together, we're not going to run from it."

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