TEMPE – Arizona State will be looking to build some momentum heading out on a California road trip after snapping their nine-game losing streak.
The Sun Devils broke their 11-game Pac-10 losing streak when they defeated Washington St. 71-69 on Saturday.
“These guys have been battling and battling and some hard work finally paid off. We got one and I think it could take off,” said senior Jamelle McMillan after practice on Tuesday.
Coach Sendek was most impressed that his team was able to keep its poise after blowing a 16-point lead in the second half.
“A lot of times when you lose momentum like that, it’s really hard to reverse the tide,” said Sendek on the Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf show on Tuesday.
“We were a team that would have been very easy at that point for us to say, ‘Uh oh, here we go again.’ For our team to overcome those circumstances was a real testament to their character,” said Sendek.
Even more impressive, the Sun Devils were buoyed by the play of three freshman: Chanse Creekmur, Keala King and Corey Hawkins.
“All those guys played with good energy throughout the game. They played great basketball and contributed in important ways for us,” said Sendek.
McMillan specifically had high praise for Creekmur, who in his first start, scored a career-high 18 points which included hitting 5-of-8 from three-point range.
“He’s up there with the best of them. The kid can put the ball in the basket,” said McMillan.
Still, the Sun Devils’ coach doesn’t want the team to get too caught up with the win.
“It does provide you that momentary thrill and you feel good about it, but the next game is pouncing on you so you got to get ready again,” said Sendek.
ASU will head out on their last conference road trip when they take on UCLA (19-8, 10-4) on Thursday and USC (15-12, 7-7) on Saturday.
ASU (10-16, 2-12) may be without seniors Ty Abbott (shoulder) and Rihards Kuksiks (ankle), both of whom missed the win over Washington State.
Both have also yet to return to practice.
“They are getting better, but at this point I don’t know if they’ll be able to play and if they do to what capacity they’ll be well,” said Sendek.
For now, the team just needs to try and finish out the season strong.
“For us it’s all about victories at this point. We’re nowhere close to any type of tournament,” said McMillan.
Arizona Sports Craig Grialou contributed to this report.