ASU Basketball: Devils Give it Away


Earlier today, the ASU men’s basketball team blew a 15 point second half lead on their way to a 66-63 loss.  This game was almost an exact mirror image of the game against USC two and a half weeks ago.  In that game, the Trojans led comfortably most of the game and the Sun Devils stole it in the final minutes.

Today, the exact opposite occurred.  ASU seemed to be in control the entire game, bouncing between a 10-14 point lead throughout.  Around the 8 minute mark of the second half, ASU went on a four-minute scoring drought.  This was the beginning of a 22-4 run by USC to close out the game.

For Herb Sendek and his team, this is a huge disappointment.  For 32 minutes, ASU was focused and had victory in their heart.  They played a dogged man to man defense.  They moved the ball.  The Sun Devils dominated on the boards, especially the offensive glass.  And they coerced the young USC team to commit 20 turnovers.

But the worst thing happened, it can happen to any team, the Sun Devils got comfortable.  And then they got nervous.  USC sensed this and started to play a little more confident.  Before you know it, USC pulled within six points.  ASU got even tighter on offense.  USC played a very loose man to man defense that almost resembled a zone.  They were sure to stay tight to Barnes and Gilling, but backed off everyone else.  The scheme worked, as ASU got little movement on offense and couldn’t get the penetration they had earlier.  Additionally, the three-point shooting of Barnes and company disappeared.

Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic was all over the court in the first half.  In the second half, he was much quieter.  It was McKissic who scored with about 40 seconds left to bring ASU back to within one.  After a defensive stop by ASU, the Sun Devils had a couple of looks at the basket, chased down the rebound and called timeout with 16.2 seconds left.

Again, it was McKissic who attacked the basket.  But his shot was blocked by USC’s Jovanovic with 2.3 seconds left.  Benjamin Stewart sank two free throws before McKissic’s desperation three pointer to tie the game bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

The loss eliminates ASU from the PAC-12 Tournament.  It also unofficially eliminates them from the Big Dance.  Their only hope now is for an invitation to the NIT.  Otherwise, their season is over.