TEMPE, Ariz. — Holding serve at home.
Great teams make a habit of it in conference play, and good teams find a way to do it when necessary.
Twenty games into the 2013-14 campaign, the Arizona State Sun Devils still aren’t quite sure where on the college basketball spectrum they find themselves, but Saturday night was certainly a step in the right direction.
For the first time since Jan. 24-26, 2013, Arizona State swept a Pac-12 series at Wells Fargo Arena, as it blew out visiting Colorado by a final of 72-51.
“I was really pleased with our team’s defensive effort this afternoon,” Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said. “I thought our guys played with good effort and good concentration, and really helped on that end of the floor.”
Jahii Carson led all scorers with 18 points and also added six rebounds and four assists. Jonathan Gilling was the only other ASU play to reach double-digit scoring, as he pitched in with 12 points off the pine.
“I think we’re all together in a better flow,” Carson said. “Everybody is in a good flow with each other, everybody is trying to get the win and everybody is trying to fill the well. I think we’re doing a good job of hitting the open man right now and not being selfish.”
The win, ASU’s third straight against Colorado dating back to last season, was the largest in conference play since a 25-point victory over Washington State back on Jan. 10, 2010.
Coming off the bench seems to be suiting Gilling just fine. Since being replaced in the starting lineup by Eric Jacobsen, the Danish junior is a perfect 7-of-7 from three-point range.
“Among the many mistakes I’ve made, one of them would be that I didn’t have Gilling come off the bench earlier in his career,” said Sendek. “I screwed up by having him start all those games, because he hasn’t missed yet since he’s come off the bench.”
According to Gilling, however, there hasn’t been much of difference despite his transition to a new role.
“Not really,” Gilling said when asked if he feels different coming off the bench. “That’s a good thing I guess.
“Other than coming off the bench, not much has changed.”
Colorado sophomore forward Josh Scott came into Saturday’s contest ranked third in the Pac-12 in rebounds per game (9.2). Jordan Bachynski, Jacobsen and Gilling did a terrific job bodying up Scott on the glass, as he finished with only six boards.
By going 3-of-3 from the charity stripe against the Buffaloes, Bachynski improved to 30-of-37 (80.1 percent) from the free-throw line in conference play. For his career, the senior center has shot 58.8 from the line.
Bachynski also added to his NCAA-leading block total (88) with three more swats in the 21-point rout.
Even in a dominant performance, ASU suffered from sloppy play at times during the 40-minute affair.
The Sun Devils committed 16 turnovers, 11 of which occurred in the opening half.
“I think we were going a little too fast,” said Carson. “We were a little too excited. Guys who were coming off the bench were anxious to get in there and make a contribution.
“In the second half, we talked to each other. And, Coach Herb (Sendek) just said, ‘Take care of the ball. We can’t have this going on the second half because it’s giving them easy transition points.’ That’s what stopped it for us.”
STAT OF THE GAME
Jahii Carson connected on his first three-point shot of the night early in the first half and in the process reached the 1,000-point mark.
Carson became the third-fastest Sun Devil to reach the career milestone, as Ike Diogu and James Harden accomplished the feat in their 50th and 52nd game respectively.
The sophomore standout, though, became just the second player in ASU history to reach 1,000 points in his first two seasons, joining Bobby Lazor.
HE SAID IT PART I
“We knew it was a must-win series for us. We needed to come out and get two wins. We knew we had a tough road coming up against Cal and Stanford, so there’s great momentum now for us coming off these two wins. Hopefully, we can carry the momentum and keep our good energy next week during practice.” — Jahii Carson
HE SAID IT PART II
“If we would have lost [both games this weekend], we would have had to wash our face, get up and get ready for our next game and keep battling. It would have given some of you a chance to write what a lousy coach I am. I’m sorry to dispel that drama temporarily.” — Herb Sendek
– The Sun Devils gave up only 23 points in the first half, tying their conference-low for the season set back on Jan. 5 in a 66-47 win over Washington State.
– Eric Jacobsen’s second start of the season proved to be a tad more fruitful than his first. Against Colorado, the sohpomore scored a season-high six points, grabbed six rebounds and recorded his first career dunk.
– ASU finished with a 36-31 advantage on the glass and had five players — Bachynski, Carson, Gilling, Jacobsen and Shaquille McKissic — grab at least five boards.
– Colorado freshman guard Jaron Hopkins, a Mesa (Ariz.) Dobson product, returned home for the first time in his collegiate career Saturday. The homecoming wasn’t all that memorable, as Hopkins scored just four points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field before fouling out with a little over three minutes remaining in the contest.
– The Buffaloes’ 21-point loss was their worst of the season. Tad Boyle’s squad last suffered a loss by 20 or more points on Dec. 8, 2012 against Kansas (90-54).
– To add insult to injury, Colorado found a way to shoot better from the field (42.6 percent) than it did from the charity stripe (37.5 percent). The Buffaloes also connected on only two of their 11 attempts from downtown.
Fresh off a two-game sweep of Colorado and Utah, ASU (15-5, 4-3) will travel to the Bay Area for a pair of games against Cal and Stanford. First up is a Wednesday night trip to Haas Pavilion, as the Sun Devils will face the Golden Bears (14-5, 5-1) in 9:00 p.m. MST. ASU hasn’t won in Berkeley since a double-overtime 99-90 victory in Jan. 2008. The Pac-12 showdown can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.