Dec. 29, 2012
by Jeffrey Donley, Sun Devil Communications
With Pac-12 play on the horizon, the Arizona State men's basketball team concluded the non-conference portion of its schedule Saturday afternoon with a 68-52 win over Coppin State at Wells Fargo Arena.
"Our guys played a good game and played well in the non-conference, but we are ready to turn the page and start the Pac-12. Good non-conference for us, but everything gets reset going into the conference," said head coach Herb Sendek, the 2009-10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
Saturday's win improves the Sun Devils' record to 11-2, giving the team more wins this season than all of last season. Sendek attributes the team's success to an attitude change from previous years, adding, "we feel good about focusing on the game at hand. We don't take anything for granted. We prepare and look at each game, as if it's the most important game on the schedule."
Although Jordan Bachynski scored on the first possession, the Sun Devils had a slow start to the game. ASU was held scoreless for almost two minutes following their first points before Jonathan Gilling hit consecutive three pointers to give ASU an 8-4 lead. Coppin State remained composed following Gilling's buckets, and put together an 8-0 run, before Chris Colvinbroke the run with a layup, knotting the score at 12 heading to the second official timeout.
The Sun Devils created separation from Coppin State in the late stages of the first half, forcing an Eagle timeout with 1:28 remaining in the half in response to an 11-0 run spanning 3:33 that gave ASU a 34-23 lead. Although the Eagles broke their scoring drought after the timeout, Jahii Carsonhit a jumper at the buzzer to give ASU a 37-26 advantage at the half.
The Devils relied heavily on the three in the first half, scoring seven of their 12 buckets from the floor from beyond the arc. Gilling connected on three of his five attempts from distance in the half, and led all scorers with 11 points at the break.
Arizona State jumped out to a quick start in the second half, scoring seven straight points, and extending their lead to 18, before Coppin State called a timeout with 17:57 on the clock.
With increased defensive pressure, ASU maintained a confortable lead, never allowing their lead to drop below 15 points for the remainder of the game. The Devils limited Coppin State to 33.3 percent shooting in the second half on 10-30 shooting.
Despite having only two points at the half, Carson led the Sun Devils with ¬15 points, seven assists and a career-high eight rebounds. Gilling followed his career-high performance of six three pointers at Texas Tech with four more Saturday, and finished with 14 points. Carrick Felix continued his streak of impressive performances, finishing with 11 points and six boards. Evan Gordonalso added 11 points.
"[Carrick] has just transformed himself in every positive way following last season," Sendek said.
The Sun Devils finished the game shooting 47.2 percent from the floor on 25-53 shooting. ASU used its size to its advantage, scoring 28 points in the paint and holding a 41-29 advantage on the boards.
Coppin State had three players score in double digits. Michael Murray, Troy Franklin, and Patrick Cole each scored 13 points to lead the Eagles.
Arizona State will continue its home stand this Wednesday, opening Pac-12 play at Wells Fargo Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. (MT) against Utah.