Sun Devils tame Lions with dominating second

Arizona State is still in the midst of finding itself as a basketball team. While staring into the mirror that was the team’s third game of the season the Sun Devils beat Loyola Marymount 68-44 Thursday night.

LMU was in the rearview for much of the game but the Lions could not stay as close as they appeared. It looked as if the game may be a repeat of ASU’s previous offensively deprived 49-39 win on Monday.

However the two players that have been with this team the longest, Bo Barnes and Jon Gilling, combined to catalyze the Sun Devils’ scoring attack midway through the second half.

Sendek said after the season’s first game that this team is tremendously unselfish, and after the second game he talked about how players have to tone that unselfishness down at times and realize when personally taking the shot is in the best interest of the team.

There were multiple possessions early on in the game where good looking shots were attained but passed up for another swing around the arc. Notably when Gilling and Barnes came off of picks onto the perimeter’s wings.

With 14:22 on clock in the second half Gilling ran off of a pick onto the wing during an out of bounds play and without hesitation pulled up for the three-pointer and made the shot.

At that point Gilling’s three extended the Sun Devils’ lead to double digits at 37-26.

Later on with 7:26 remaining in the game Barnes bailed out the Sun Devils’ offense with a three-pointer far behind the line.

About 90 seconds after Barnes’ three Shaq McKissic drove into the lane in transition while a defender was attached to his hip. McKissic entered the middle of the paint and then kicked it out to Gilling who calmly knocked down a three. At this point the game was firmly in hand at 51-38 and LMU would not see any signs of life the rest of the way.

Eric Jacobsen’s imperative stability in the interior is only mildly reflected by his ¬11 rebounds. The junior center provided solidity in the paint and Sendek’s agreement was reflected by Jacobsen’s team leading 36 minutes played Thursday night.

“I’m excited about the way Eric is playing and his future,” Sendek said. “It seems like he’s ready to succeed in the line of frontcourt players that have shown amazing improvement in our program over the course of their career.”

Jacobsen was accredited by Barnes for some of the team’s ball movement and open shots.

“They were doubling the post and so it was getting me pretty open shots because Eric was doing a good job of skipping it or kicking it out,” Barnes said.

The Sun Devils were fortunate that the Lions were unable to find the bottom of the net in the first half because LMU got plenty of good looks itself. Many of those decent shots came courtesy of the Lions’ guard Evan Payne’s lively ball fakes and jab steps to create separation.

That separation was achieved but Payne could not finish around the hoop. The guard’s one for nine shooting in that half contributed to LMU’s eight for 27 offensive production.

The Lions finished the game shooting 28 percent and Payne who was averaging 22.5 points per game entering Thursday night concluded with nine points on a three for 13 shooting performance.

Sendek attributed Payne’s off night to the team’s ability to put a fresh defender on him at all times and the coach continued with the team theme tracking back to the unselfishness nature of his squad.

“Everybody’s kind of staying in their lane right now,” Sendek said. “Guys do what they do. And I’m very pleased with that.”

The Sun Devils will take another look into the mirror and try to discern what it sees Monday in a challenging matchup against Maryland in the CBE Classic in Kansas City.

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