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November 18, 2012

Sun Devils bash Rattlers to win second straight

Jordan Bachynski's information wasn't exactly accurate but it was an important point all the same.

Addressing a gathering of reporters following Arizona State's 97-70 bashing of Florida A&M Sunday in front of a piddling crowd of 3,107, the 7-foot-2 junior center reflected on last season's seemingly endless futility.

"We won two games in a row," Bachynski said. "I don't think we did that last year."

The Sun Devils actually did win back-to-back games in 2011-12 but it didn't happen until their final two games of the regular season. This year's 2-0 start? Nothing unexpected but still worth noting.

"We have a lot of things going great for us," Bachynski said. "We've got guards. It was brought up that we had five guys in double figures (for the second straight game). That's team basketball. We don't just have one star. We're playing together, playing as one unit. When we're not playing 1-on-5, when we're playing 5-on-5 and [opponents] can't key on one player, that's great."

ASU started on a 17-4 run and put the game away late with a 17-2 run. In-between, the game was played to a virtual draw, though the Rattlers (0-3) were unable to climb any closer than 57-52 with 12:24 left in regulation.

"I think the first half we didn't do too good at cutting out their heart which is No. 3 (Rattlers guard Jamie Adams)," ASU senior guard Chris Colvin said. "He got a lot of buckets coming down and shooting the ball. But we did a lot better pressuring them in the second half and gave us a lot of advantages."

Freshman guard Jahii Carson scored 20 points on 11 shots with seven assists and just three turnovers to lead the Sun Devils, while Colvin came off the bench to score 15 and sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling had 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Bachynski had 14 points and senior wing Carrick Felix had 13 points for the Sun Devils, who shot remarkably well: 55 percent from the field; 50 percent from the 3-point line; 84.6 percent from the free throw line.

Adams scored a game-high 24 for the Rattlers, including 17 in the first half, when he was able to frequently get quality looks at the basket off ball screens and fight his team back into the game.

"I think Chris Colvin just did tremendous job (defensively) on him and our guys played with a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor and that fueled our ability to get separation," coach Herb Sendek said of ASU's pull away late.

"I think we dug in a little more," Bachynski said. "We got tougher, we just started putting bodies on guys better. We were more effective in that way and I think everyone was rebounding, not just the bigs. That's when we're able to rebound the best, when everybody puts a body on a man and goes after the ball."

Sendek, who earned his 100th win at ASU, was pleased with the team's evolution on offense after having a week between games to work on their new approach to the game on that end of the floor.

"I saw definite improvement," Sendek said. "I was not pleased with the shot selection in the first game. I thought today overall we were better. I still think we can do a better job of working inside-out but in a week's time there was some growth in that area."

Carson's game was undoubtedly a big reason. He created opportunities for teammates throughout the game by collapsing the defense, which contributed to ASU's good shooting afternoon.

"He is our leader," Bachynski said "He distributes the ball really well, he sees the floor really well. I've said it before, I'll say it again, he's a young Steve Nash. He can get it to the hole, he can score and he had seven assists today which is great. He's really coming into his own."

"He's a heck of a young player and he played terrific today," Sendek agreed. "You look at his line and he did a lot of great things for our team and he's only going to get better and better, this is only his second game."

Bachynski said there's still plenty to work on, as the team' went through a comfortable phase through much of the game's middle third, where he didn't put a lesser caliber opponent away when it could have.

"Coach always says it's always about us," Bachynski said. "It's not a game against someone else, it's a game against ourselves. It's a game against our mental stability, I guess. Just being able to, every play, bring it. There were lulls in the game just like there were last game and that's something we're working on and I feel like we did a better job. So again, this game was a step in the right direction but we're not there yet."


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