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January 27, 2012

Sun Devils miss opportunity against Huskies

Sans Trent Lockett (ankle) and coming off a putrid road trip where it lost back-to-back games against the Pac-12's newest members Colorado and Utah, not many gave Arizona State a chance against talented Washington, even with the Huskies' Jekyll and Hyde road identity.

But there the Sun Devils were, up a basket at the half, 24-22, as coach Lorenzo Romar's squad once again appeared well on its way to a vanishing act away from Seattle.

Alas, reality eventually kicked in for ASU, which couldn't score a field goal in the first six minutes of the second half and fell into a hole it couldn't get out of in a 60-54 loss in front of 6,794 at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday.

On a night where ASU honored one of its all-time greats, Lafayette "Fat" Lever, by hanging his jersey in the arena's rafters, the program dropped to 6-14 overall and 2-6 in the Pac-12 while Washington improved to 13-7 overall and 6-2 in the league.

"Not to take anything away from Washington, but I thought there were a number of instances where with greater awareness and alertness, and just following through with making plays that we were more than capable of making, especially on the defensive end of the floor, we could have been in a far better position," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "It's the plays we're capable of making that we didn't make that really stand out to me right now."

The Huskies used a 17-3 run to turn their two point deficit into a 12 point lead at the 13:26 mark and the Sun Devils failed to get it to a one possession game the rest of the way, though they were able to close their deficit to four points on three occasions.

Freshman Jonathan Gilling didn't start off shooting the ball well, and was pulled early for one minute by Sendek, but came alive subsequently and led the Sun Devils with 20 points, shooting 5 of 12 from behind the 3-point line.

"I really thought we could beat these guys,'' Gilling said. "I don't think they're any better than us. They're maybe more athletic, but I don't think player for player they're better than us. I'm really disappointed."

Turnovers continued to be an anchor around the Sun Devils' ankle, as they committed 15 including six by junior point guard Chris Colvin, who also played 39 minutes. It was below the team's average but still five more than the Huskies.

Guard Tony Wroten put on a show for Washington, with 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting, a majority of which came from the mid-range in. He had arguably the most impressive dunk observed in Wells Fargo Arena all season, which even brought ASU's fans to their feet in the second half.

Wroten, only a freshman, had a key And-1 which bumped the Huskies lead to seven late in the game after Gilling hit a corner 3-pointer to give ASU hope in the closing minutes.

ASU, which entered the game leading the league in adjusted field goal percentage, had a lot of quality looks at the basket it couldn't convert, Sendek said, and that, coupled with some defensive breakdows and ball protection issues proved to be the difference.

"Even the start of the game, I thought we got some great looks," Sendek said. "You're going to have nights like that. But I think the difference for us was just not making some plays that didn't have anything to do with offense or defense--just our capacity to be aware, to make better decisions, to continuing playing, to get the ball."


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