Devils falter to Stanford

LOS ANGELES - One by one in defeat various NCAA tournament bubble teams have been hurting their chances all week of being of invited to the Big Dance. Tonight, ASU has joined the pack. The Sun Devils fell 70-61 to Stanford in the Pac-10 tournament and like several other teams are left to wonder what Selection Sunday holds for them.

Not only did Arizona State (22-10, 12-6) fail to cool off hot shooting Stanford (14-17, 7-11) but they were also uncharacteristically careless with the ball. The Sun Devils committed 17 turnovers on the night and allowed the Cardinal to convert at a 61.1 percent clip in the second half and 54.8 percent for the entire contest.

"I don't think it was anything more than we weren't playing our best today," explained ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Most certainly Stanford deservers a great deal of credit for that. When we played at Stanford a couple of weeks ago, we had five turnovers for the game. Tonight we finished with 17 for the game and that led to multiple Stanford transition opportunities and it really put us behind the eight-ball."

"We just didn't care of the ball and we didn't execute the way that we have been doing all year," said guard Ty Abbott. "When you don't execute and you don't take care of the ball it all piles up."

ASU trailed for all but one minute of the contest. With 8:15 left in the first half, Stanford had already built a 22-12 lead. Rihards Kuksiks, who had 15 first half points, helped the Sun Devils go on a 12-2 run to tie the score at 24 apiece. A three pointer by Derek Glasser late in the period saw ASU trailing just 29-28 at halftime.

Yet, any hopes that ASU could build any momentum going into the second stanza were dashed in the first few minutes of that timeframe. After ASU held a brief 30-29 edge, Stanford went on a 21-7 run in the first eight minutes, and with Kuksiks held scoreless the rest of the game the Sun Devils' offense became more and more anemic shooting 37.9 percent.

Only with 1:27 remaining in the contest were the Sun Devils able to bring down the deficit to single digits which naturally wasn't enough to escape the upset.

"They played an excellent basketball game," said Sendek of Stanford. "They really did a good job defensively. We didn't get many very easy baskets or opportunities. It seems that everything came hard for us. So I think you have to give Stanford's defense a great deal of credit in forcing those turnovers, helping contribute to our low shooting percentage."

Jeremy Green and Landry Fields had 18 and 17 points respectively for the Cardinal in the win.

"Offensively they were very efficient. When those big two get going like they did today, it can be a real challenge," said Sendek.

Glasser had 14 points in a losing cause, while Eric Boateng recorded a second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 15 boards.

The palpable question following tonight loss was whether ASU's proverbial tournament resume is good enough to join the field of 65?

"I don't know," admitted Glasser. "We'll have to wait and see. Obviously if we won and kept on winning it would help us, but we won't really know how this affects us until Sunday."

"I don't know how anybody knows, it changes hourly," commented Sendek. "We finished second in the conference, and I don't think anyone will have the answer to those kinds of questions until Sunday. Obviously the more you win the better your chances get. So we'll have to hope for the best now that we weren't able to advance in this tournament.

"Hopefully our Pac-10 regular season will have significant weight. That is our hope. "

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