TEMPE - Herb Sendek insists he does not pay attention to bracketologists or mock NCAA Tournament fields. The Arizona State coach simply focuses on the next game.
That much was clear Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Arena. Although it took awhile for the Sun Devils to get going, they built a significant lead and held on to defeat Washington State 69-57.
ASU improved to 20-7 overall and 9-5 in the Pac -12, assuring itself of a nonlosing conference record. It marked the fourth time Sendek has won 20 games during his seven years in Tempe, but the first in three years.
"Thank God," senior forward Carrick Felix said of reaching the win total.
Felix led the charge. The senior forward - who will play his last home game Saturday against Washington - had 23 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman point guard Jahii Carson added 21 points and five assists.
"We just tried to bring energy," Carson said. "And I think our whole team just capitalized on all that energy."
Added Felix: "Guys are ready. They were prepared to battle tonight. We did let up in the second half defensively, and that's something we have to take a step back and look at because we're down in February now and we can't give up leads like that."
The game got off to a strange start. To honor former ASU star James Harden on "James Harden Beard Night," the ASU student section decided to stay silent until the Sun Devils scored their 13th point. (Harden wore No.13 at ASU.) Only problem, it took ASU about 10 minutes to reach 13.
Once Felix drained a three-pointer to get past the Harden mark, the students came to life and the arena started to sound like college basketball. ASU outscored Washington State 22-8 the rest of the half, taking a 36-22 lead.