What can you say? We would be a lock for the tournament with a win, and we fell just short. What an effort though. ASU is on a roll and they were strong at home last night in the win. We had four guys in double figures and still couldn't pull out the win. Props to our guys for playing their hearts out. Let's dive into the game:
Coming out of the gate, both teams were on fire. Nic was driving to the hoop, Chase was doing all sorts of crazy things, and Kyle Fogg turned it over and stole it back about 4 times. Nic Wise had 10 points, Budinger had 9, and Jordan had 8 at the half. The Sun Devils were also all over the place and had a 44-34 after hitting 10-16 3 pointers. Rihard Kuksiks killed us all night and finished with 17 points going 5-10 from beyond the arc. The other nail in our side was Jamelle McMillan who came in and went 3-4 from the field, hitting 3 three pointers. However, he finished the game with only 9 points.
The Outcome was: Disappointing. What a great game. When are we going to come out on top of one of these? We absolutely smoked the Sun Devils with our 20-4 run. We were playing solid defense, cutting off passing lanes, stopping the penetration and forcing our tempo. We got Pendergraph and Kuksis in foul trouble along the way which made for some easy buckets on our end. We can't worry about this anymore. Still need some more wins to lock up the tourney bid.
The Offensive MVP was: Nic Wise. I have to say, I have missed my fair share of games being out in Texas, but when you get to see this guy, there is no question that he runs the team. There are so many things that he does that don't show up in the stat sheet it's unbelievable. Pressuring their point, forcing the ball up the court, slowing the ball up the court, penetration that doesn't result in an assist or score but creates ball movement, passing, shooting, drawing double teams and creating for his teammates. No doubt the Offensive MVP of the night.
The Defensive MVP was: Kyle Fogg. Again, after watching a game, there is much more to the box score than the stats. Fogg had 3 steals, but was a thorn in their side the whole game. He crashed the boards and picked up a few rebounds while Chase and Jordan had their hands busy with other ASU guys coming in. Fogg also picked up 2 offensive rebounds.
Bench: Lavender 5 minutes. Horne came in with 24 minutes, 5 points, and 5 rebounds. He hit a huge three pointer with 4:18 left in the game to put the Cats up by 2. Other than that, no one got minutes. Zane had 2 quick fouls in this one and it could have been ugly if he would have picked up his 3rd.
Stat of the game: Kuksis: 10-15 from three point land. The guy was on fire. He shot three, three pointers in one minute in the first half. He would fake passes, hold it, then drain. He hit them from the corners, top of the key, and sides of the key. What a game by him.
Overall: We could have easily locked up our NCAA bid with a win over ASU yesterday. The guys played hard and fought back big time. I usually defer to coaching maneuvers when games go like this, but I have to ask one question: Why didn't we go to man-to-man? Kuksis absolutely killed us all night. We can handle Harden by doubling up on him and making someone else beat us. Maybe it's Kuksis, maybe it's Glasser, but ASU worked our zone big time. They knew Kuksis was hot and did a good job to get him the ball with an open look.
Pendergraph picked up a lot of easy baskets when Jordan would slide to the baseline to cut off the drive, only to have the backside not rotate down (Wise, Zane). Their three pointers cooled off considerably, which fueled our 20-4 run so I am not saying that going to man to man would have won us the game. In the first half, I thought the adjustment needed to be made due to Kuksis AND Mcmillan killing us from outside.
Can't blame this one on anyone. One of the best games I have watched all season. We really need to concentrate on our road games and come out with at least a W at WSU. I still think we make it with one or two more wins this season.
Next up: Thursday @ Washington State.