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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils Stumble Early but Defeat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67-54

Coach Sendek wasn't pleased with tonight's effort, yet is relieved the Devils still found a way to be victorious.

Coach Sendek talks to Jahii Carson (left) and Jonathan Gilling
Coach Sendek talks to Jahii Carson (left) and Jonathan Gilling
(Photo: ASU Athletic Department)

ASU seriously pushed the classic phrase "a win is a win" to its limits on Wednesday night, defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67-54. The Devils move to 5-1 overall but have a plethora of room for improvement.

"I just think we came out of the gates kind of slow, I don't think our energy level was there," Carrick Felix said. "We just got to be ready to play every game."

For the majority of tonight's contest, the unknown Golden Lions fought tough. Lazabian Jackson and Mitchell Anderson combined for 32 points. Although ASU's main problems were internal, as they tied their season high in turnovers with 18.

"We weren't sharp in any phase of the game tonight," head coach Herb Sendek said. "Turnovers were a big issue, just really carless with the basketball."

After Jahii Carson exploded for 30 points against Creighton, the freshman phenomenon posted a pedestrian nine points. Throughout the game, issues against zone defense's were evident. Carson adjusted to play more of a facilitator role, however, and totaled eight assists and a mere eight shot attempts.

"I thought early on we really settled, over half of our shots were threes tonight," Sendek said. "Whether it's zone or man, it comes down to basic fundamentals."

Conversely, senior swingman Carrick Felix continued right where he left off in Vegas. Felix went 8-for-12 from the field accumulating 21 points, 6 rebounds and four assists.

"I'm just waiting for things to come to me, I got to continue to work," Felix said. "I've been aggressive so far, and so far so good."

To the delight of Sun Devil nation, not everything went wrong. ASU did improve at the charity stripe going 16-for-20 while holding Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 29.7 percent shooting.

Times looked bleak deep into second half action until a 17-0 run helped the Devil's gain firm control. The jolt was spark plugged by Jonathan Gilling nailing consecutive threes and Evan Gordon gaining his footing. Overall, the ball movement and patience clearly improved during the stretch.

Despite the somber post game mood and disappointing effort, ASU delivered in crucial moments. The Devils next game will be December 1st against Sacramento State at Wells Fargo arena.

"We have a very challenging game on Saturday, a team that is really capable and dangerous," Sendek said. "They have already beaten Utah in our league on the road, and so we are going to have be much better on Saturday night."