Sun Devils Prepare for Mountain Schools

The schedule ahead doesn't get any easier for Arizona State as the Sun Devils hit the road this week for two of their final six conference games to close out the regular season. Fresh off its upset over rival Arizona, ASU travels to take on Colorado and Utah for the second time this season.

First up for Arizona State are the Buffaloes on Tuesday at 9:00 pm Arizona time. The Sun Devils defeated Colorado last month in Tempe 72-51, led by sophomore Jahii Carson's 18 points and six assists while junior Jon Gilling came off the bench to deliver 12 points on 4-4 shooting from three point range.

Arizona State forced 19 Colorado turnovers in the win while limiting the Buffaloes to 20-47 shooting (.425) and an even worse 2-11 (.018) from deep.

But Colorado has since won four of its last five contests while rebounding from the loss of their point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, who tore his ACL against Washington on January 12th.

"They've been playing good," said Carson on Monday after practice. "Actually, since we played them I think they've won (four) out of their last (five) and they're great up there. We played them last year and it was a nail-biter and we know how their atmosphere changes the way they play. They've been able to get back on track since Dinwiddie's been out and they've been playing outstanding basketball.

"We definitely have to come out and be warriors out there on the road and we can't take nothing for granted. We've just got to go out there and win basketball games and that'll take care of itself."

Colorado is 15-1 at home this season, including a big win over Kansas in early December. The Buffaloes are led by sophomore Xavier Johnson, who enters the week averaging 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game but has scored 20 or more in three of the last four outings for the Buffs.

Helping pace the CU attack has also been point guard Askia Booker, who's averaged 19.6 points, 7.4 assists, and 5.0 rebounds over the last five games since taking over for Dinwiddie.

"Colorado is a good team," said senior Jermaine Marshall. "They came here and we were able to get a win but we don't want to go there after this great win and kind of let ourselves down. We want to be prepared. We know how tough it is to go in that environment and play. I think guys are ready for that challenge."

"We shared a statistic with our players on Monday; under Coach (Tad) Boyle they're 49-1 when they out-rebound their opponents at home," added Head Coach Herb Sendek. "The one loss being the game last year that we played, so we're going to have to find a way to rebound just like we had to against Arizona. It seems like we're going against the two best rebounding teams back-to-back in this game coming up."

Arizona State has won six of its last seven games overall this season and the last three meetings against Colorado, including a 63-62 overtime thriller last season on an Evan Gordon last second lay-up. The Sun Devils will then be off until Sunday night when they take on Utah in Salt Lake City.

"I think they have two of the best home courts going in college basketball," commented Sendek. "This year between the two teams they have maybe one home-court loss. Colorado's home-court is notorious. They had a great win at home earlier in the year over Kansas and Utah really has it going at home as well."

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Marshall Named Pac-12 Player of the Week

Jermaine Marshall was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday, becoming the second Sun Devil to earn the award in as many as weeks after teammate Jordan Bachynski took home the honors last week following the team's sweep of the Oregon schools in Tempe.

"It's not something that I was looking for, I was just happy we got the win," said Marshall on Monday.

Marshall poured in a career-high 29 points last Friday in Arizona State's 69-66 double-overtime win against then second-ranked Arizona. The senior started off strong, scoring 12 points in the first half against the Wildcats but went nearly 15 minutes without a basket late in the contest.

With his team trailing by four in the second overtime period though, Marshall scored eight consecutive points, including two clutch three point baskets and the go-ahead lay-up over Nick Johnson, in the game's closing seconds.

"Being a fifth-year senior and being a leader on the team, I knew I was quiet for a while but Jahii and Jordan did a great job just scratching and crawling and keeping us in the game," he added. "When we got down, I just told myself, 'It's your time," and I was able to make plays down the stretch."

Since recovering from a groin injury he suffered last month, Marshall has averaged 22.0 points in the last five games for the Sun Devils, including 16 made three point baskets.

"It's incredible and it doesn't matter what happened previously," said Sendek of Marshall's recent play. "It's not a function on if he's having a good night or if he's not having his best night. He just has an amazing capacity to step up and make plays when the game's on the line. We knew he was an accomplished scorer and he performed well on a big stage previously, but to see him time and time again make plays when the game hangs in the balances really incredible.

"And he's done it in a variety of ways. It's not always the same recipe but the end result seems to be the same; he steps up and makes big plays."

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Pac-12 Issues Statement on Carson Dunk

Early on Monday, the Pac-12 issued a statement saying that the referees in last Friday's game between Arizona and Arizona State missed a call against Sun Devil point guard Jahii Carson for hanging on the rim following his dunk with less than a second remaining in the contest.

It appeared Carson hung on the rim initially to avoid landing on teammate Jon Gilling but proceeded to remain on the goal after Gilling cleared the area, which is a violation of Section 4 Class B technical infractions Article 1, letter F according to the NCAA rulebook.

Per NCAA rules, the Wildcats should have been awarded two free throws and possession of the ball. Arizona would have had to in-bound the ball from where the infraction took place, which would have been underneath their own basket with 0.7 seconds.

"There's errors made in every game and that wasn't the only error made in that game," remarked Sendek. "That's a discretionary call by the officials. They have to make a split-second decision to see if he was supporting himself, or was he not? Was he safe-guarding himself, or not? Obviously it would have been more prudent to run the clock out rather than take the shot but once again it happened in what seemed like a nanosecond and certainly after 50 minutes of basketball that wasn't the only thing that determined the outcome of the game.

"When kids are out there playing that hard for that long in that environment, not everybody is always going to do the perfect thing."

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Bachynski Controlling the Paint

When you're 7-2, everything you do seems big to most others. But as of late, the play of senior Jordan Bachynski has been really BIG for the Sun Devils as they make their push towards postseason play. Not only is Bachynski averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and minutes played, he's elevated it even higher as of late to emerge as a contender for the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award.

The Pac-12's all-time leader in blocked shots has averaged 18.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 8.0 blocked shots over Arizona State's last games, all of which have been wins. Bachynski logged 47 minutes last Friday against Arizona and came up with one of the game's defining plays, denying T.J. McConnell's runner in the lane with 5.8 seconds to play to preserve ASU's historic win.

"If he's not in that conversation, I don't know who would be," said Sendek. "The blocked shots are at such a high level right now, I can't remember any time I've seen this on a consistent basis. I mean think about it, if you look at a stat sheet and see somebody with over two block shots, you have to make note of that. That's a scouting report nugget. If you see somebody with three block shots per game, you're putting stars next to that. To consistently have games where he has eight, nine blocked shots, it's something that I've seldom ever seen.

"And like we've talked about here recently, not only is he blocking shots but he's drawing the charge. We can't even get some guys who don't block shots to draw the charge. And then if you throw in the two steals that he had or go back to the head-first dive on the floor he had against Oregon, he just has been playing really inspiring basketball."

For the season, Bachynski is averaging more than 31 minutes per contest for the Sun Devils which is six more minutes than last season and 21 more than his freshman campaign when the center struggled with his conditioning after taking two years off from basketball to complete his Mormon mission in the Dominican Republic.

"His hustle has been incredible and the other thing to Jordan's credit is his physical stamina has improved so greatly," added the coach. "He played 47 minutes (against Arizona). We can all remember it was a stretch for him to play more than two or three minutes at a time and either he asked out or I saw that he needed a blow and subbed for him.

"But for a young man his size to play 47 minutes like that, I think is a real testament to the work he's done together with our great Sports Performance coach, (Rich Wenner)."


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