Arizona State feels no pressure

Published: Saturday, November 24, 2012
Arkansas' BJ Young (11) drives to the basket with Arizona State's Jonathan Gilling defending during the second half of the Sun Devils’ 83-68 victory Friday night over the Razorbacks.
Arkansas' BJ Young (11) drives to the basket with Arizona State's Jonathan Gilling defending during the second half of the Sun Devils’ 83-68 victory Friday night over the Razorbacks.

— Arkansas prides itself on playing unselfish basketball, but that share the-ball philosophy was virtually nonexistent Friday night against Arizona State.

The Razorbacks had a season-low eight assists as Arizona State defeated Arkansas 83-68 at the Las Vegas Invitational at The Orleans Arena.

“We play an unselfish brand of basketball,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “When you look at that stat, that’s troublesome in itself.”

The Razorbacks weren’t themselves against the Sun Devils (4-0). Aside from assists, Arkansas (3-1) also had season lows in field-goal percentage (39.7), three-point shooting percentage (20 percent) and steals (7).

The pressure defense that Anderson’s teams are known for was neutralized by a quality effort from the Sun Devils, who made 56 percent of their shots. Carrick Felix led Arizona State with 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including a 4-for-4 performance from behind the three-point line.

“I don’t know if he shoots it like that all the time. He was knocking down some shots,” Anderson said. “They answered the call. ... They did a good job at handling our good pressure.”

BJ Young led the way for the Razorbacks, scoring 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting.

Arkansas returns to the court at 7 p.m. Central tonight against Wisconsin, which lost 84-74 to Creighton on Friday. The Razorbacks are in the midst of a difficult five-game stretch. After today’s game,Arkansas plays Syracuse and Oklahoma at home before traveling to Michigan.

It’s a stretch that will test and teach the young Razorbacks.

“This is a pretty good game for us,” Young said. “[Arizona State] had some good size. We’ll see it all year. It was a good test.”

Arkansas committed a season-high 27 fouls, resulting in 36 free throws for Arizona State. The Sun Devils made 20, but it was the disruption of the game’s flow that hurt the Razorbacks the most.

“When you shoot 36 free throws, that throws a lot of rhythm off,” Anderson said. “The fouls and disruptions, we need to clean that up.”

The Razorbacks had a promising first half, shooting 53.6 percent from the floor. Arkansas had a five-point lead with 4:01 to play, but the Sun Devils clawed back to retake the lead 43-41 before the half ended.

Arkansas came out flat in the second half, allowing the Sun Devils to go on a 13-5 run that pushed Arizona State’s advantage to double digits.

“They seized momentum before the half. We never got back that rhythm,” Anderson said. “We gave up some easy opportunities, whether it was turning it over or putting up quick shots. We got away from things that got us the lead.”

The Razorbacks cut the lead to 6 after a fast-break layup by Young, but Arkansas never pulled any closer. The Sun Devils went on an 11-4 run, capped by Felix’s dunk with 7:47 left, to push the lead to 14.

The comfortable lead allowed the Sun Devils to lay back and make the Razorbacks come to them with pressure, opening up lanes to drive and pass.

“We can take a lot of the pressure because we’re so quick,” said Sun Devils point guard Jahii Carson, who scored 19 points. “We were very prepared, and we capitalized on the press.”

Jordan Bachynski added 14 points with 13 rebounds for Arizona State.

Sports, Pages 34 on 11/24/2012