Arizona State freshman Jahii Carson says Saturday's game against Arizona is "the biggest game, probably, that we've played" this season.


TEMPE - His Sun Devils having lost three straight and five of their last seven, Herb Sendek was asked Thursday what Arizona State's route to the NCAA tournament could possibly be.

"We're just trying to plot the best route to Tucson, so we don't get lost," Sendek said, smiling. "Take the freeway."

The only sure way to the Big Dance figures is by winning the Pac-12 tournament's automatic bid.

To end their slump before the Las Vegas tournament, the Sun Devils (20-10, 9-8 Pac-12) would have to beat the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday at McKale Center.

"We might have to win every game remaining," Sendek said, playfully. "And even if we win the conference tournament, we might have to play an additional game for good measure."

The bubble has not been kind to the Sun Devils, who, one month and one day ago defeated Cal to improve to 18-5.

On Thursday, ASU had an RPI of 98, according to's "Bracketology" has the Sun Devils the seventh-best team left out of the Big Dance.

"I think some guys individually were taking it at heart, wanting it so bad that they ended up burping," guard Jahii Carson said. "Things happen like that."

Senior wing Carrick Felix said that, "when we start looking ahead," perhaps the Sun Devils struggle.

"It's a little tough knowing we've been on the bubble for a little while," he said. "Now we know we can't really worry about it.

"We have to kick it to the side and just worry about what we're doing now."

Prep time

Carson, who averages 21.5 points in 38.5 minutes on the road in Pac-12 play, called Saturday's contest in Tucson "the biggest game, probably, that we've played" this season.

"You know - our rival," he said.

The freshman was happy to have six days to practice beforehand.

"Definitely, giving us a week to prepare, rest our bodies and mentally check in again definitely helps us in our favor, I think," he said.

Sendek said he wasn't sure of the correlation between extra time off and performance, but that "it was good, from the standpoint that we got a little bit extra rest."

Rim shots

• ASU center Jordan Bachynski needs six blocks to set the all-time single-season Pac-12 blocks record of 115, set in 1994-95 by a fellow Sun Devil, Mario Bennett.

"It's something I've always been good at for my whole career," the junior said, "and it's something I've always prided myself on."

Sendek said it was a "real luxury to have a guy who can block shots like that."

• The Sun Devils will likely keep senior Chris Colvin in the starting lineup and bring Evan Gordon off the bench, the coach said.

• Eleven of ASU's 17 league games have been decided by two possessions or fewer. In eight road games, the Devils have totaled almost exactly as many points as their foes, trailing 543 to 540.