Devils still searching for answers

Carrying over the same theme from last week's matchup against the Arizona Wildcats, the maroon and gold again found themselves struggling to hold it together on defense during this evening's competition with the California Bears. The breakdown has now resulted in two consecutive losses at home, and the resolution for a turnaround is still at large.

"I don't really know," senior Ty Abbott said on how to stop the current skid. "Two games in a row we've had three guys score 20 points or more. Jerome Randle came in as point guard, Nick Wise came in and they both just hit big shots on us. We've got to figure out a way to slow them down."

Falling to the Bears, 70-78, the Sun Devils allowed the Bears to gain a 16-point lead in the second half, and left them scrambling to stay in the game.

"They hit big shots," commented Abbott. "Anytime you get something going and you let a team come down and hit big shots and start going on a roll, they hit three in a row, it's bad news."

So far this season, Arizona State has been commended for their defensive abilities against tough opponents. The recent shift has come as a surprise to the maroon and gold, including their inability to stop teams from gaining control of the contest.

"Obviously its easier to play when you've got a lot of momentum or somebody hits a big shot and things like that," noted Abbott. "You get that adrenaline going and you feel it going your way or whatever but it's not really about the surges they had it was just the whole game regardless of if we were hitting our shots or not, we couldn't find a way to get the stops that we needed."

Still missing junior guard, Jamelle McMillan, because of a bruised foot continues to affect the Arizona State defense. Unable to fully make up for his presence on the court, the Sun Devils are adjusting to the lack of McMillan's leadership on the court, as seen last week against the Wildcats.

"Obviously it hurts," admitted Abbott. "He is a big part of what we do but we've got guys that are capable of stepping up and filling his role, in a sense, and doing the things that he can do. But, with a guy like Jamelle, he's so much energy and so much heart, it's hard to replace a guy like that."

Freshman Trent Lockett has started in lieu of McMillan and has been able to pick of some of his responsibilities. Tonight, he stepped up on offense scoring 15 points, 11 of them in the first half. Nonetheless, Lockett was limited in his offensive contributions in the second half as the Sun Devils attempted to play in a more reserved fashion.

"I started the game really aggressive," said Lockett. "As the game went on I think we were just trying to elongate the possession and try to make good shots. As far as my aggressiveness, I don't think that it changed. Just as far as, as the game went on, we were just trying to make sure we got good shots so I didn't necessarily take every opportunity I had to penetrate and stuff like that."

Another standout was center, Eric Boateng. The senior showcased his abilities in this evening's game posting 19 points and 13 rebounds, and giving valuable contributions both offensively and defensively.

"Eric did great for us," said Abbott of his teammate. "He did a great job rebounding and finishing around the basket. It's always a lot easier for a team when you have your inside threat pounding away down low and he did a great job for us tonight."

Seeing many similarities between the last two home games, the Sun Devils will have continue to try and find the missing link in their defensive abilities. Taking on Stanford this Saturday will give the Sun Devils an opportunity to break their losing streak at home.

"Same as the other day," stated Abbott concerning his team's psyche following the loss to Cal. "We have to figure out a way to bounce back, we have to figure out a way to get wins at home, at least. Loosing at home is unacceptable."

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