Arizona State turned to a 21-year-old, 7-foot-2 freshman for an inside presence against Arizona.
Jordan Bachynski had played jut 60 minutes - an average of 6.7 minutes per game - entering Saturday. He finished with six points, two rebounds and four blocked shots in 11 minutes in Arizona's 80-69 victory over the Sun Devils at McKale Center.
"Jordan really gave us a good boost in the second half," ASU coach Herb Sendek said.
Bachynski appears to have a lot of room for growth. The tallest player in ASU history, Bachynski turned 21 in September and hadn't played basketball for almost three years. After undergoing ankle surgery his final year of high school, he left on an LDS Mission for two years.
"If you're a couch potato - not to infer that's what he was - for three years and you try to play basketball at this level, that's quite a transition," Sendek said. "But you see he does have talent, and we expect him to get stronger and get more acquainted with what we're doing and get better."
Bachynski said he was impressed with the energetic McKale atmosphere, and he became winded after the first five or six minutes. He pulled on his jersey, indicating to the bench that he needed a break.
"My legs don't have the endurance they used to," said Bachynski, who weighs 243 pounds. "My cardio is there. It's just that my legs can't hold me up as long as they used to be able to."
Bachynski, who hails from Calgary, Alberta, said he was known for his shot-blocking skills in Canada. He averaged 8.7 blocks per game during his senior year of high school.
"It's just getting my mind back to game speed. Then it'll be right there again," he said.
Although the Sun Devils were encouraged by Bachynski's performance, they continue to look for better rebounding and a stronger frontcourt game.
Arizona outrebounded the Sun Devils 35-21 and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to ASU's four, which equaled Derrick Williams' own total for offensive boards.
At halftime, ASU had just eight rebounds to Arizona's 16.
The rebounding effort doesn't fall solely on the frontcourt players, Sendek said.
"They beat us on the glass - that's the key of the game," guard Trent Lockett said.
Back in action
Senior guard Jamelle McMillan returned to action after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting and three assists in 31 minutes. He said he felt OK and wasn't winded too much.
Senior guard Ty Abbott lost his first career game against Arizona in Tucson. Last year, he scored 28 points at McKale. Saturday, he finished with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 2 of 7 on three-pointers.
"Simple man-to-man, trail screens, nothing different," Abbott said about how he was defended by Arizona.
• ASU trailed 43-34 at halftime after allowing its most points in a half this season.