Nine days ago the Arizona State Sun Devils earned a signature victory for their resume, beating then-No. 2 Arizona 69-66 in overtime. Conventional wisdom had Herb Sendek’s team well on its way to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009, and with contributors such as guards Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall and center Jordan Bachynski Arizona State has the look of a team capable of winning once there.
But just as important as picking up quality wins at this point in the season is building on the momentum gained from such results. And it’s safe to say that on their trip to Colorado and Utah, Arizona State did not get the job done. After getting beat decisively on the glass in a 61-52 loss at Colorado on Wednesday night, things got even worse for the Sun Devils in Salt Lake City.
After scoring the first two points of the game Arizona State struggled mightily against a Utah team looking to rebound from a tough overtime loss to Arizona, trailing by as much as 27 in the first half. Utah would win 86-63, resulting in an 0-2 road swing for an Arizona State team that while well-positioned to reach the NCAA tournament can’t afford to get too comfortable. Neither the effort nor the execution were there for Sendek’s Sun Devils, and by the time they flipped the switch and cut the margin to 13 points in the second half the hole was too deep to climb out of.
Shaquielle McKissic (16 points, five rebounds) and Egor Koulechov (11 points, eight rebounds) showed up ready to play, but the same can’t be said for most of their teammates. Arizona State’s three most important players combined to shoot 7-for-29 from the field and as a team the Sun Devils shot just 31% from the field. By comparison Utah made 54% of its shots, with Delon Wright putting on a clinic in all-around guard play.
Wright made all seven of his shots from the field, finishing the game with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson may be one of the frontrunners for Pac-12 Player of the Year, but from a versatility standpoint Wright isn’t far behind. With the weakness of their non-conference schedule Larry Krystkowiak’s Utes likely need the automatic bid to reach the NCAA tournament, but with players such as Wright and Jordan Loveridge this program has taken steps in the right direction. And given their youth, 2014-15 could be a really good year for Utah.
As for Arizona State, upcoming home games against Stanford and California become more important on the heels of Sunday’s poor performance. With a ticket to the NCAA tournament well within their reach, Arizona State has to play with greater urgency than they displayed this weekend.
Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.
Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom
North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.
While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”
“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”
“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”
No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.
STILL TO PLAY
Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.
Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.
Jim Boeheim was on the DP Show on Thursday morning, and he admitted that John Gillon’s 23-foot banked-in three at the buzzer was (shocker!) a lucky shot.
But that wasn’t the most interesting thing that he said on the show.
Patrick asked him about his future in Syracuse, and Boeheim had an interesting response.
“I don’t know what’s etched in stone these days,” Boeheim said. “I really don’t. There’s a plan in place, and we’re going to see what happens. But basically right now, I might be done this year. You just don’t know. You just have to wait until the season’s over.”
Boeheim also responded to a column written by Pete Thamel in SI that speculated on when his time in Syracuse would come to an end, saying the only accurate part of the story was that “he spelled my name right”, before adding that, like anyone else nearing the end of a career, when he has a bad day or a bad week, he thinks about calling it a career.
Creighton announced on Wednesday that injured point guard Mo Watson Jr. was suspended from the program on Feb. 13th for “alleged actions that are contrary to university policies and core values.”
The reason for that suspension, according to a report from the Omaha World-Herald, is that he is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault that happened in Omaha this month.
No charges have been filed and Watson was not arrested as of Wednesday night, according to the paper.
Watson was having an all-american season and leading the nation in assists when he tore his ACL on Jan. 16th in a win at Xavier. He underwent surgery in his hometown of Philadelphia a couple of weeks later, but he has not been a part of a Creighton team activity since his return.
Creighton is 4-5 since Watson’s injury, losing on Wednesday night at home against Providence. They’ll likely make the NCAA tournament still.
Watson is not going to participate in Senior Night festivities in Omaha next week, per the OWH.