Devils sluggish in win over Spartans

Taking care of business in an ugly fashion. That's how ASU's Jamelle McMillan described today's 61-52 win over USC Upstate. With just 2:16 left in the game the Sun Devils led by just four, but a three-pointer by the ASU guard and a pair of free throws ensured a victory in his team's last non-conference game of the year.

Arizona State (10-3) was struggling offensively in a major way. Rihards Kuksiks, coming off a career-high 27-point game was scoreless, as was Eric Boateng. The maroon and gold shot just 28.6 percent in the first half and 38.9 percent for the game.

"We had a hard time scoring," said ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Some of our guys really had off nights. We did a good job on (Nick) Schneiders, he attracts a lot of attention. But we didn't do as good of a job guarding the three, giving up 8 out of 20.

"There were too many possessions where we didn't capitalize, that might have allowed it to have a different feel. We didn't play well."

USC Upstate (1-10) had a 9-2 lead at the 16:35 mark, but that was answered by a 13-0 ASU run. The hosts were able to build a 25-12 lead with five minutes left in the half, but went on one of many cold shooting spells today and were outscored 13-5 the rest of the half.

The maroon and gold opened the second half in impressive fashion, and once again jumped to a sizeable lead, 47-32 at the 11:01 mark. Yet, they allowed the visitors back in the game and held a slim 56-52 edge with just 2:16 left in the game. McMillan's scoring in the waning moments of the contest secured the victory.

Jamelle Macmillan not only contributed 15 points, but led all players on the floor, including the Spartans' 7-3 Nick Schneiders, with nine rebounds and also had four assists. Ty Abbott had 15 points as well. Derek Glasser had six assists to along with 11 points.

The biggest surprise of the game was Taylor Rohde who provided much needed down low presence in light of Boateng's struggles. The sophomore had a career-high 12 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

"Eric wasn't at his best today, so Taylor played more minutes," Sendek commented. "He has had some good moments for us. Today he chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds. He got to the free throw line. He certainly made tremendous progress over the course of his time here. His rate of improvement has been outstanding."

Today's contest may have the proverbial ‘look-ahead' game, as the ASU players and coaches started their four-day holiday break after the game. Nonetheless, Sendek didn't make excuses for his team's subpar performance in today's victory.

"We want to learn from every game and we don't want to dismiss any experience," he explained. "Even games where we play well there are ample opportunities to learn from the good and the bad and today will be no different."

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