The ASU men’s basketball team completed a successful crucial weekend by topping Colorado Saturday night in Tempe. The Sun Devils started fast with great intensity and an upbeat tempo. Colorado tried to match that intensity and tempo, and was successful in spurts, but could not sustain it for the duration. The Buffaloes, without their best player Spencer Dinwiddie, put forth a valiant effort on the road but came up short.
For the second game in a row, shooting forward Jonathan Gilling was replaced in the starting lineup by Eric Jacobsen. This move to “go bigger” has paid off for coach Herb Sendek in two ways. First, Jacobsen is being effective as a legitimate “4 man”. He’s grabbing boards, finishing around the basket and playing solid defense. Secondly, the effect on Gilling has been successful. Coming off the bench, Gilling is 9 for 10 in three point shooting attempts. It’s clear that for now, Gilling is comfortable coming off the bench.
Also, for the second game in a row, reserve forward Bo Barnes has made an early and veritable contribution to the game. Spectators can’t help but see that Barnes brings energy, court vision and hustle. Right now, he is the proverbial spark that coach Sendek was looking for at this point in the season.
Of course, any analysis of this game would be incomplete without mentioning sophomore point guard Jahii Carson and senior center Jordan Bachynsky. Carson was too much to handle for Colorado defenders most of the game. He was effectively aggressive, pushed the tempo and made plays all night long. That’s three games in a row that Carson has kept his foot on the gas while leading this team. Center Bachynsky turned in his typical solid performance. He only had 9 points, but he was perfect shooting the ball from both the field and the free throw line. He also collected 3 more blocks and was a force inside, as usual.
This was another big win for this ASU team. Every home game from here on out is basically a “must win”. The PAC- 12 conference is a log-jam in the middle. If ASU wants to separate itself, it needs to keep turning in performances like this.