Jan. 6, 2013
by Jeffrey Donley, Sun Devil Communications
The Arizona State men's basketball team fought off a slow start and rallied from a double-digit deficit in the first half, to down the Colorado Buffaloes, 65-56, Sunday evening at Wells Fargo Arena.
Three Sun Devils scored in double figures to lead the team to its first 2-0 start in the Pac-12 since 2007-08, and for just the fourth time since joining the conference. Arizona State improves its record to 13-2, while Colorado falls to 10-4 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.
Carrick Felix scored a game high 20 points and pulled in eight boards to lead the Sun Devils. Jonathan Gilling recorded his second career double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Jordan Bachynski added 16 points, seven rebounds, and nine blocks. Bachynski's nine blocks is the most by a Sun Devil in a Pac-10/12 game. Chris Colvin also tallied nine points off the bench.
Although Colorado held the rebounding edge, 40-39, the Buffaloes felt the presence of the Sun Devils in the paint. ASU scored 28 points in the paint and exceeded their season average with 13 blocks. Coming into the game the Sun Devils ranked third in the country in blocked shots. Bachynski was also ranked third in individual blocks coming into the game, and doubled his average output.
Colorado jumped out to a quick lead, 9-2, which forced Arizona State to call a timeout early in the first half. Colorado's defensive presence in the opening minutes made it difficult for the Sun Devils to find any offensive rhythm, forcing poor shot selection and turnovers in the opening minutes of the game.
The Buffaloes used an 11-0 run, pushing the score to 13-2, before Felix broke the Devils' dry spell with a layup with 13:43 remaining in the half. During the run, ASU was held without a basket for almost four minutes.
The Devils fought back from their deficit, narrowing the lead to six points, as a result of a 9-2 run that lasted 2:25, trailing Colorado 22-16 with 6:22 left in the first.
Led by an offensive spurt by Felix, who drained two consecutive jumpers from beyond the arc, Arizona State continued chipping away at Colorado's lead. At the final official timeout in the first half, ASU trailed 29-24, after being down by 13 earlier in the half.
The Sun Devils used a 6-0 run over the final two minutes of the half before the Buffaloes hit a layup at the buzzer, and Arizona State trailed Colorado, 33-30, at the break.
Despite starting just 2-10 from the field, ASU picked up the pace offensively and made 9-14 following the slow start and finished the half shooting 45.8 percent. Meanwhile the Buffaloes started the game hot, but was just 4-10 on their final shots of the half, and was shooting a slightly better than ASU, 46.7 percent on 14-30 shooting.
Felix and Bachynski each tallied 10 points in the first half to lead the Sun Devils back into the game. Bachynski anchored ASU defensively, blocking two shots in the first half and disrupting Colorado's offense, allowing the Devils comeback.
Arizona State carried its momentum into the second half, trailing 39-37 at the first official timeout. As with the end of the first half, ASU looked confident offensively and defensively, while the Buffaloes looked disoriented, despite maintaining a slim lead.
The Devils tied the game, 39-39, with 14:21 remaining in the game with a Gilling tip in, to draw even for the first time since the opening minutes. Following a big defensive stand, in which Ruslan Pateev stuffed Colorado's Andre Roberson, Felix gave the Devils their first lead of the game, 41-39, with 12:40 on the game clock.
After the Buffaloes tied the game, 41-41, ASU went on a 7-2 run to lead 48-43, forcing a Colorado timeout with 5:21 remaining in the game. The run lasted over five minutes to give Arizona State its largest advantage of the night to that point.
Arizona State went into the final official timeout of the game on a 10-0 run, and led, 54-43, with 3:48 left in the game. ASU held Colorado to just 10 points in the half heading into the final moments of the game.
Colorado fought back, trimming the Sun Devils' lead to five points in the final minute, taking advantage of Arizona State's struggles from the free throw line. The Buffaloes were not able to get any closer than that, and ASU held on for a 65-56 comeback win.
The Sun Devil defense stepped up after Colorado started the game shooting over 50 percent. ASU cooled off Colorado's shooters, limiting them to 35.3 percent from the field at the end of the game, and 26.3 percent in the second half.
Offensively, Arizona State fought off a cold start from the field to finish the game shooting 42.6 percent on 20-47 from the field. The Sun Devils struggled from three-point range, shooting 29.4 percent, and on free throws, finishing with a 60.6 percent mark from the charity stripe.
Colorado was led by Spencer Dinwiddle, who had 19 points, followed by the efforts of Askia Booker and Josh Scott, who had 13 an 10 points respectively. Roberson was the top rebounder for the Buffaloes, grabbing 13 boards.
Arizona State will head to Corvallis on Thursday for a 9:30 p.m. (MT) tilt against Oregon State. The Sun Devils will also visit Oregon on their road trip, facing the Ducks on Sunday at 7 p.m. (MT).