Cold Shooting dooms Sun Devils in home loss
The Utes (14-2,4-0 Pac-12)did not look insurmountable, just simply on a different level of play in an array of different categories. Utah’s offense got the job done from three-point land Thursday. The team shot nine for 17, totaling a gorgeous 53 percent. To be real the Sun Devils (8-9, 0-4) had an off night. Key players such as Eric Jacobsen were forced into foul trouble early and when Jacobsen was on the floor it seemed as though he could not finish around the hoop. But in reality he just did not get many shot attempts or minutes. The junior center registered eight points, four rebounds and four fouls in his 17 minutes of play. Although foul trouble prevented Jacobsen from scoring a multitude of points, he still ranked third on the team in that statistic Thursday night. Gerry Blakes lead the team with 10 points. Savon Goodman followed with nine as well as an additional 10 rebounds. “I wouldn’t say it’s taking a toll but it’s definitely bothersome,” Goodman said of the team’s recent losing streak. The second half of play was largely uneventful. The Utes blessed itself with a 17 point cushion and used that cushion to continue to wear down the Sun Devils as the team also whittled down the clock. The 17-point halftime lead was initially achieved because of the Utes’ three-point shooting but also because Utah incorporates a lot of movement beneath the three point arc through curls and cuts to and away from the basket. These cuts helped keep the bodies of the team’s offense moving. And it also opened up room for open three-point shots of which the Utes took advantage. While Utah had bodies in semi-constant motion the Sun Devils were commonly seen standing still while on offense. This is often perceived as “lazy basketball”. However, that was not the case on Thursday night. ASU is a team that is about sharing the basketball and understands the importance of quick ball movement. And that is a fundamental the Arizona State players are committed to, but on this night the team did not help the ball movement cause because it did not physically move around on offense. Again, that was not because of laziness-- because as soon as a shot went in the air everybody that was previously still moved with the purpose of grabbing the rebound. ASU did not look as though they weren’t trying but they also did not look like a crisp team working hard while executing its game plan. “Everyone needs to go in the game--and get lost in the game,” Goodman stated. The junior college transfer forward may have had one of the few moments on the night where an ASU player was “lost in the game” when he cut baseline and threw down an alley-oop from Kodi Justice. The crowd went insane. But unfortunately for the Sun Devils because the connection came at the end of the half the oop was an uncontrollable missed opportunity. The play might have been able to ignite the team going forward but any potential momentum was halted by both team’s exits to the locker for break. Arizona State would fail to recover and succeed at extending its losing streak. After the loss the team’s four game slide in conference play was mentioned casually in a question to Head Coach Herb Sendek. Sendek caught the statement and factiously replied, “Is that right I didn’t know that.” It’s understandable that the coach would be frustrated about the record and be unappreciative of the remark. However it is a fair point. This is why when Sendek did answer the question he passively took responsibility. “My job is to lead and to teach. And right now in many ways it’s more challenging to do that then when things are going your way,” Sendek said. “But because my greater mission is to lead and to teach I’ll stay focused on that.” Goodman mentioned focus being important as well. “[We need] to key in a little bit more and take advantage of our opportunities,” Goodman said. Neither the coaching staff nor the players are pointing fingers during this rough patch of play and ASU will need the mutual responsibility to continue if it wants to get back into the winning column. Their next opportunity to do comes Saturday at 2:30 p.m. as they host Colorado.
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