ASU Basketball: Devils Fall to Utah


Thursday night, the ASU men’s basketball team dropped another conference game, losing to Utah 76-59.  The loss to the #8 ranked Utes slides the Sun Devils to an overall record of 8-9 and 0-4 in the PAC-12.

While the record isn’t good, the reality is that ASU had been playing decent basketball.  Until last night, the Sun Devils had only one ugly loss. (to rival Arizona)  The other losses were close games where ASU simply couldn’t close it out.  But this blowout loss to another ranked team illustrates how far away ASU is to competing with good teams.

In the last four contests, all against PAC-12 teams, the Sun Devils are averaging just over 50 points per game.  That’s not good.  This team clearly has offensive issues.  Against both Arizona and Utah, the Devils struggled to get good looks at the basket.  When they did, they couldn’t put the ball in the hole.  When guards Tra Holder and Kodi Justice beat their man off the dribble, they missed the easy lay-ups.  Forwards Savon Goodman and Shacquille McKissic also missed some easy put-backs.

The long-range shooting is dismal as well.  Senior forward, Jonathan Gilling, who is a 3-point specialist, hasn’t gotten in a good rhythm lately.  Against Utah, he fouled out of the game scoring only three points.

So now, coach Herb Sendek has another added problem: a crisis of confidence.  Before the holiday break, ASU’s only real concern was finding a “go-to” player down the stretch of close games.  All of ASU’s losses were winnable in the last minute of the game.  Missed free throws and silly turnovers in the closing seconds of the game sank ASU almost every time.

But now, this ASU team is struggling to get any kind of offense going.  Cold shooting is part of the problem.  Execution of the offense is another.  But Devils in Detail believes the confidence of the players on the floor is almost non-existent.  Anybody watching the game can see that the players are feeling pressure when it comes to getting a good look at the basket.

The season is not lost, not even close, but somebody on this team has got to get hot, get some confidence and break this team out of it’s current funk.  The effort is there.  The athleticism is comparable enough.  But the mental ceiling the players are battling has to be overcome for this team to turn the corner.

They’ll get their chance against a beatable Colorado team tomorrow.  Stay tuned.