Dec. 12, 2012
By Jordan Parry, Arizona State Media Relations Student Intern
Arizona State entered Wednesday night's game at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz. with a 7-0 home record thus far this season. Also entering the game, the BIG EAST, DePaul's conference, had won 20 straight games--something had to give.
Unfortunately for Arizona State, they were the one's doing the giving, as they dropped the contest with DePaul, 78-61.
The Sun Devils came out of the gates strong against one of their toughest opponents to date this season, while the opposite could be said for the Blue Demons. In the first 1:38 of the game ASU had already attempted six free throws, though only converting on three of them. Jahii Carsonwas active early, shooting four of the first six free throws. The Devils jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, aided by DePaul's 0-6 shooting to start the game, which forced the Blue Demons to call a timeout just 3:27 into the contest.
Carson had six points before the first official timeout, but only finished the half with eight points on 3-9 shooting. He often found his way to the basket but was forced into difficult layups which would not fall.
DePaul did not stay down long, as they fiercely battled back. They used a three-point play followed by a three-pointer to give them the lead at 14-13 with just under 12 minutes to go, causing ASU's Coach Sendek to burn a timeout.
The timeout provided little help and the Blue Demons went on a quick 15-4 run, extending their lead to 23-17. They would control this lead seemingly with ease for the rest of the first half.
DePaul senior guard Worrel Clahar then hit his second three of the contest, which was followed by another quick basket off an ASU turnover in the backcourt, as the Blue Demons enjoyed a 40-26 lead with 2:42 to play in the first half.
Arizona State tried clawing their way back before halftime, but the squad that averaged 38.3 points in the first half this season was held to 33, and trailed the visiting team by nine at the break.
DePaul's stout effort on the defensive end affected the Sun Devils throughout the first half, especially with their full-court pressure they applied after every bucket. This stopped ASU from being able to set up in their normal offense routine, a strategy that worked against the Sun Devils in their only other loss this season against Creighton.
Both teams shot 46 percent on the half, but DePaul made 18 field goals to Arizona State's 13. A glaring stat for the Sun Devils came in the form of free throw shooting, as they once again struggled from the line in the first half, shooting only 6-13. As a team they shoot 65 percent for the year.
The second half began with a bang, and then another bang, as ASU recorded two consecutive dunks by Jordan Bachynskiand Felix to cut the lead to six. After a three by Blue Demon freshman guard Durrell McDonald, Felix once again took flight, slamming through another emphatic dunk for his third of the game. These dunks have been becoming a regular occurrence for Felix lately.
Despite the electrifying plays, the Sun Devils still found themselves down 13 again with 15:51 to go, causing Coach Sendek to change his lineup around some. He inserted center Ruslan Pateev, who has not seen much action lately, who hit a banking hook shot which cut the lead back to 11.
However, the Sun Devils could not sustain any meaningful runs and could not find stops on the defensive end, and the Blue Demons took advantage. They used back-to-back layups by Brandon Young and Clahar to give them a 16 points lead at 60-44 with 12:20 to play.
The lead extended to 20 with 10:00 to play shortly after, deflating any momentum Arizona State had towards making a possible comeback.
Size played a large factor in the contest, as DePaul used their length to snatch 12 offensive rebounds to ASU's seven. The Blue Demons improved in the second half to shoot 50 percent on 34-68 shooting, while ASU finished at 43 percent on 25-58 shooting. This is the first time this season the Arizona State defense has allowed their opponent to shoot at least 50 percent.
Young led all scorers in the game, dropping 18 points on 8-14 shooting. Five Sun Devils finished in double digits.
Ironically, on Dec. 12, 2012 (12/12/12), the last repeating day we all will be alive to see, three Sun Devils--Carson, Felix and Evan Gordon--tied for the most points on the team with 12 apiece. Cleveland Melvin, no. 12 for the Blue Demons, also finished with 12 points.
Wednesday's matchup against DePaul marked the first time the Devils hosted a BIG EAST opponent since Dec. 29, 1993, when they beat Villanova in overtime, 73-62. With the win the BIG EAST continues their dominance in non-conference play this season, improving to a combined 108-27 record against opponents outside of their conference.
The loss snaps the Sun Devils' four-game winning streak and is their first loss during their six-game home stand. They will look to bounce back and jump back into the win column Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (MT) as they face Dartmouth from Wells Fargo Arena.