ASU Basketball: Sun Devils fall behind early, unable to make up the difference in loss to Stanford

USA TODAY Sports

A lack of offensive execution and poor 3-point defense saw the Devils lose their fourth game in Pac-12 play.

For ASU, this was a night they might end up looking back on and shaking their heads in disappointment.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (18-6, 7-4) seemingly trailed the Stanford Cardinals (15-9, 6-5) all night as they found themselves losing, 62-59. A combination of poor Arizona State shooting, awful perimeter defense and missed free throw attempts, something that has plagued them all season long, lost them a game that they should have won in their own arena.

"It's definitely disappointing because this is our home, this is our house," senior forward Carrick Felix said after the game. "We're always taught to protect our house and that's something I don't think we did tonight."

It came down to the Devils shooting a porous 34% from the field, while allowing the Cardinals to have their way from the three-point line. Stanford shot 10-18 or 56% from deep. Two Stanford players, Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, ended the game with double-doubles. And then there were the free throws. ASU only managed to make 50% of their free shots (8-16). Not until 7:15 remaining in the game did an Arizona State player (Jonathan Gilling) make both of his attempts in one foul visit to the line. With this poor performance from the charity stripe, the Devils are now shooting 62% from the line on the season.

"It's very frustrating because I see us working on it (free throw shooting) each and every day," Felix said. "It's just a focus thing when you're stepping to the line in the game. The crowd's there and it's going to be a lot of pressure, but you just have to clear your head and focus and knock the free throws down."

To try and get an offensive spark going and make up for the lost points at the free throw line, Coach Sendek inserted Jonathan Gilling into the game at the center position, giving them a small lineup to help add more pressure defense. The Devils played without a true center in the game from the 14:23 mark until the end of regulation.

"Eventually, we went small ball and made a flurry," ASU Coach Herb Sendek said. "We really had some opportunities with some open looks. Looking back, it might have even put us in a better position right now. I thought that that matchup along the front line was difficult for us. Truth be told, I thought we had some challenges carrying over our preparation into execution."

An air ball from Evan Gordon in the corner with 30 seconds to go sealed away the loss for ASU. He shot just 4-16 from the field tonight, along with a 3-10 outing from Jonathan Gilling and 5-13 from Carrick Felix, who had a double-double of his own.

How this affects Arizona State down the road, we will have to wait and see. All this loss has done is add more pressure for them to win some very difficult road games down the stretch if they want to make the NCAA tournament next month.

The Sun Devils will now travel to Utah for a rematch against the Utes. The last time these teams played, ASU got away by the skin of their teeth, 55-54 in overtime here in Tempe.

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