ASU Basketball: Sun Devils Swept on “Elevation Trip”


This last weekend, the ASU men’s basketball team lost both games on their “elevation trip” to Utah and Colorado.  The winless trip drops ASU to 14-14 overall and 7-9 in the PAC-12.  This dismal road trip essentially eliminated any hope of the Sun Devils having a chance of an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.  Their only hope now for a trip to the Big Dance is to win the PAC-12 tournament in Las Vegas in two weeks.

Against Utah, the Sun Devils were clearly out-matched.  No doubt, the Sun Devils had a cold night shooting.  But the Utah defense swarmed all over the Sun Devils.  At halftime, ASU had a total of 15 points and was losing by 25.  The second half was not much better and the Sun Devils lost by a final score of 83-41.

Utah is clearly playing on another level right now.  Two days after laying waste to the Sun Devils, they lost a hotly contested game to the U of A by five points.  The Utah defense and offensive rhythm was too much for ASU to handle.  The Devils got down early, 9-0 and never recovered.  Coach Herb Sendek had to burn up 3 timeouts in the first few minutes of the game in order to try to stop the bleeding.

The loss at Colorado on Sunday was a different affair.  The Sun Devils did not have the shooting woes of the previous game in Salt Lake City.  In a game of runs, a back and forth affair of lead changes saw ASU with the lead a couple of times in the second half.  The culprit for this loss, once again was the free throw shooting.  The Sun Devils made just 25 free throws in 39 attempts.  That’s 14 points left on the floor.  That has to be painful for this Sun Devil team in a six point loss.

The ASU defense had no answer for Colorado guard, Askia Booker, who scored 27 points in the 87-81 victory over ASU.

The Devils have one more weekend of conference basketball before the PAC-12 tournament.  Thursday, the Stanford Cardinal come to Tempe.  And on Saturday, the Cal Bears visit to close out the regular season and ASU’s final home stand.

Ideally, this ASU team could use this final series to springboard them into the tournament with confidence.  Tournament play is all about “being hot” at the right time.  A sweep of the Bay Area schools could give the Devils enough confidence to go into Vegas with their guns blazing.

Realistically, a win against Stanford will be a tall order.  Even beating Cal might will be tough, as the Bears are fighting for their own relevance heading into post-season play.

The bottom line for ASU is that they are near the end of the rope and need to really bring the urgency and concentration every time they step on the floor.  Because soon, the next time they don’t bring their best effort to a game will be their last.