November 17, 2009

Sun Devils win preseason NIT opener

In a game that started late, Arizona State seemed to started even later.

The Sun Devils (2-0) cruised to an 84-62 win over Texas State in the first-round of the NIT Season Tip-Off at Wells Fargo Arena, but not before trailing 23-24 with under six minutes left in the first half.

With a 9 p.m. start time to accommodate television coverage on ESPNU, the Sun Devils took some time figuring out their opponent, then unleashed a 16-0 run just before intermission. They'll next play Texas Christian, an 83-65 winner over Cal State Northridge, Tuesday at Wells Fargo at 9:30 p.m.

Senior guard Derek Glasser led the Sun Devils with 20 points, but most of the late night conversation centered on junior guard Ty Abbott, who returned to action after a month on the shelf with a knee injury to score 11 points in 14 minutes, and freshman wing Trent Lockett, who had 17 points and seven rebounds.

Abbott had eight points in his team's key first-half run, not to mention two rebounds and a steal.

Though he's only been back on the practice court less than a week, Abbott looked every bit of his normal self. He was a presence on the defensive end, on the glass and made 4-of-5 shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc.

"Texas State has a tremendous amount of toughness, really took it to us on the offensive glass and in the post but our guys battled," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "We got a big lift obviously from Ty, great to have him available for at least some portion of the game. I thought Eric Boateng, both on the boards and especially on the low post in the second half really gave us a lift. Derek hit a couple big 3s and I thought to start the second half Trent really got us going with some deflections and steals and defensive help."

Lockett also was a big contributor in ASU's 16-0 run before the break, with four points, including a put-back dunk on a missed shot by Glasser that had a sparse crowd of 5,457 buzzing.

Perhaps more important than any made basket however was ASU's effort on the defensive end. The Sun Devils forced 27 turnovers, the most in a game during the Sendek-era.

"We were pretty active," Sendek said. "I think we had 45 or 48 deflections. Trent and Eric each had nine apiece which was encouraging."

But ASU also turned the ball over 20 times, an unusually high number for a Sendek team at ASU, particularly Glasser and junior Jamelle McMillan being two excellent caretakers of the basketball.

"Texas State did a great job pressuring us,' Sendek said. "They harassed us, they were tenacious. They deserve credit. Then, we didn't take care of the ball. I could go through them in my mind one by one and give you an explanation. They mount. We had a 4-on-1 and we tried a trick pass and it went the other way and was a four-point swing. We catch the ball on the swing, we don't 'triple-threat' and the guy gets up in his and takes the ball. Jamelle is running the left lane and we outlet to him instead of Derek and on that ensuing possession instead of us in transition they hit a three. They just start to mount. We've got to be better in that area and we will. Before all is said and done we'll be a low turnover team."


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