The Arizona State Sun Devils basketball team started the 2012-13 season 8-1 for just the fourth time in 38 seasons and only lost two games in the first two months.Freshman sensation Jahii Carson was electrifying crowds and Jordan Bachynski was blocking everything that came his way.
Carson scored his first 30-point game against No. 14 Creighton, senior Carrick Felix was named to his second Pac-12 Player of the Week and Bachynski notched the triple-double in ASU men’s basketball history against Cal State Northridge during the opening stretch.
Things were going extremely well for coach Herb Sendek and the pundits were finally putting the hot seat rumors to rest.
Here is what went wrong and what went right for Arizona State in the 2012-13 season.
The Devils experienced some speed bumps in conference play including a blowout loss to in-state rival Arizona at home 71-54. They lost a couple more heartbreakers along the way but also bested the UCLA Bruins by 18, swept the Colorado Buffaloes and handed the Cal Bears their only loss in 10 games.
The talk about the Sun Devils was now about Arizona State’s NCAA Tournament chances.
At 20-8, many had the Devils squeezing into the tournament, all they had to do was finish their final four games with two to three victories—they lost all four. Their final home game against Washington was a harbinger of things to come for the Devils, scoring only 59 points. They lost at UCLA and at USC in two very winnable games and then traveled to Tucson to lose, yet again.
The Pac-12 Tournament was their only remaining hope to punch their ticket to the big dance and the Sun Devils narrowly escaped the Stanford Cardinal in the first round after blowing an eight-point lead with a minute remaining in regulation.
They weren’t so lucky in the second round.
After a slow start by both teams, ASU took the lead at the 13:45 point in the first half and led by as many as 15 before going ice cold. The Bruins regained the lead with five minutes remaining in the game and outscored the Devils 13-9 down the stretch.
The promise of a good season went down the drain. The Devils not only missed the NCAA Tournament but didn’t even garner enough respect to earn a good seed in the NIT and lost on the road in the second round.
For all intents and purposes, this was Carrick Felix’s team. He had already graduated with degree in Communications prior to the season and was accepted into the Liberal Studies Master’s program. The one thing that was on his mind was having a stellar senior season on the court as well as off.
He started all 35 games and led the team in rebounds per game and three-point percentage. He lit up Wells Fargo Arena several times this past season with his circus-style dunks. Prior to this season, he had a total of zero double-doubles, this season he had a league-leading 13 with nine in conference.
Felix finished with 14 games of 20 or more points and had 16 straight games scoring in double figures. His 50 total steals and 1.4 per game were tops on the team and No. 7 in conference. He finished eighth in conference in rebounds and ninth in field goal percentage.
He was named the Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year and Pac-12 first-team Academic All-American to go with his second-team All-Pac-12 and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors.
Jahii Carson started all 35 games and averaged a team-high 37.2 minutes per game. He led the Sun Devils with 18.5 points and 5.1 assists per game. He also had an alarmingly high turnover rate of 3.5 per game.
He was named Pac-12 Co-Freshman of the Year with Shabazz Muhammad and was also selected to the All-Pac-12 First Team. He ranks sixth all-time for Pac-12 freshmen in total assists and seventh all-time in points.
He finished the year with three games of 30 or more points and 15 additional games of 20+ points. Carson broke 10 Sun Devil freshman records including total points, total assists and field goals attempted. He is also the first freshman in Sun Devil history to start every game and shattered James Harden’s total minutes and minutes per game as a freshman.
The biggest question now is will the 5’10”, 175-pound point guard return to the Sun Devils or look for the early payday? With his smaller size and affinity for turnovers, it would be a bad decision if he were to leave.
Jordan Bachynski was all over the place this season. He led the team and the league with 3.4 blocked shots per game and set the Pac-12 single-season record for blocks with 120. Arizona State as a team also broke the record for most blocks in a season with 211.
He led the team in field goal percentage and was No. 2 in the league at 58.3 percent. He finished the season second on the team in offensive rebounds and third in total rebounds. His 12 blocks along with 12 rebounds and 13 points against Cal State Northridge registered as the school’s first triple-double, albeit not of the traditional points/rebounds/assists variety.
Bachynski finished the season with four double-doubles and had 14 games scoring in double figures and notched double-digit rebounds in six games. He was also named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive team for his efforts.
His intensity underneath needs to improve as he is too nice of a player in the trenches. He trails all starters from the charity stripe with a paltry 59 percent.
Jonathan Gilling loves shooting from behind the arc. His blonde hair and smooth stroke reminds many of Rihards Kuksiks who played for the Devils from 2009-2011.
He started all 35 games and averaged just under 10 points and over six rebounds per game. He attempted 60 more three-point attempts than the No. 2 guy in the Pac-12 and led the league in threes made with 84, averaging 2.4 per game. Unfortunately, he was’t always dialed in and his 36 percent accuracy was sometimes detrimental to the Sun Devils’ game.
Gilling’s defense is what sets him apart from Kuksiks. He finished second on the team in rebounds and assists, third in field goal percentage and fourth in steals.
Gilling is exciting to watch when he is hitting his threes, but he had only one game this season where he scored 20 or more points and scoring in double figures is the exception, not the rule. His three double-doubles were great, but he is so streaky that he can be almost painful to watch when his shot is not there.
Evan Gordon was another anomaly for the Sun Devils. When he was on, he was a great player. He averaged 10.1 points per game, third best on the team, but his 39.1 percent field goal percentage made many cringe when he had the ball on offense.
He loves the outside perimeter shots and took the second-most three-point attempts in the league. His total of 61 made ranks No. 11 in the Pac-12, but his percentage of 34.7 didn’t crack the top 20.
Gordon started the first 25 games and the Sun Devils were 18-7. The next 10 games where Gordon came in off the bench, they were 4-6.
Say what you will about Gordon’s inconsistent play, but it was better than that of senior Chris Colvin who was consistently bad.
The Sun Devils’ bench and lack of depth was ultimately their undoing.
Senior guard Chris Colvin started nine games averaging 21.6 minutes per game. He averaged a mere 5.1 points and 2.0 assists per game. He was atrocious from the free throw line hitting only 42 percent and his field goal percentage of 39 percent was laughable.
Senior backup center Ruslan Pateev and freshman Eric Jacobsen both started a game apiece but did little to help the team. Pateev averaged just under 10 minutes per game and was a decent shooter under the basket. He had the grit that Bachynski lacked in the trenches but was a poor shooter outside of the paint. Jacobsen averaged only 7.3 minutes per game but still found a way to foul out—unbelievable.
Sophomore transfer student Bo Barnes was expected to make a decent contribution this year but in 28 games, his 17.4 field goal and 23.5 three-point percentages kept him on the bench. Freshman Kenny Martin played sparingly over 11 games and with good reason making only 2-of-11 field goal attempts.
Grade: Pateev earns a C- but the rest all earn F’s