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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcat ‘D’ shuts down impotent ASU ‘O’

    The last time ASU was held to 47 points in the intrastate rivalry, Harry S. Truman was the president of the U.S., Arizona had only been an official state for 37 years and the shot clock and the 3-point line were far from being invented. For 57 years, the Sun Devils put up a better offensive fight than they did Saturday afternoon in their embarrassing 68-47 loss.

    “”When I looked up and they had seven points after the first 18 minutes, that’s amazing,”” Arizona head coach Lute Olson said.

    The ASU offense was so futile that they had three times the number of turnovers as they had made field goals in the first half. After junior forward Serge Angounou made a tip in for ASU’s first two points, the Sun Devils did not make another field goal for seven minutes until seldom-used sophomore center Craig Austin knocked down a jumper.

    After sophomore guard Antwi Atuahene made another layup, the Sun Devils proceeded to clank more shots for the next 6:48.

    “”They were having a hard time getting the ball in position for shots, and we forced 15 turnovers in the first half,”” Olson said. “”(Nine) of those were steals, and any time you do that you’re going to get a lot of buckets at the other end.””

    Their abysmal 25 percent shooting percentage in the first half actually looks a lot better on paper considering they made two field goals and scored six points in the last two and a half minutes of that first half.

    “”I feel like the game we played was more up-tempo, running up and down the court,”” freshman forward Fendi Onobun said. “”We had a lot of defensive stops, we caused a lot of turnovers, just played Arizona basketball.””

    Junior guard Kevin Kruger, the Pacific 10 Conference’s leader in 3-point field goals made per game, made no 3-pointers. He attempted nine, however, en route to a whopping total of two points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field, along with seven turnovers.

    “”We just tried to get in his face and not let him do the things he wanted to do,”” said sophomore guard Daniel Dillon, who had two steals in 17 minutes. “”He wasn’t hitting shots, and once you miss a couple, it keeps on going, and he just had a bad game. Hopefully, it was the mainly the defense that caused that.””

    Not to be outdone, junior guard Bryson Krueger came off the bench and turned the ball over six times. Krueger’s stat line may have looked decent in both Arizona games, but each time his offensive outburst came way after the game had already been decided.

    Saturday, Krueger scored all 14 of his points in the second half, when ASU was trailing by more than 20.

    “”The key thing that we wanted to do was make sure we were in their face when they caught the ball,”” Olson said. “”Both (Kruger and Krueger) can shoot the thing outside if you’re not really on them. I don’t think they had (any good looks at the basket) until late when Bryson had a couple of open looks.””

    Meanwhile, ASU’s inside presence was non-existent as well. Pac-10 freshman of the year candidate Jeff Pendergraph, a forward, attempted five shots in the game while playing all 40 minutes. In the decisive first half, he scored two points on 0-of-3 shooting from the field.

    “”We knew what he was going to do,”” junior forward Ivan Radenovic said. “”We fronted him in the low post every time, and he couldn’t get the ball. That’s how we shut him down.””

    It wasn’t the case where the Wildcats played great offensively either. Arizona shot just 40.6 percent from the field, including 33.3 percent in the second half. The Wildcats scored 30 of their points off turnovers and the Wildcats’ 16 steals were a season high.

    “”I thought we had good alertness on defense,”” Olson said. “”Radenovic was unbelievable in terms of not only the job he did on his guy but the anticipation he had to come up with six steals. I’m not sure you’ll see many front-line guys that end up with that many steals.””

    Radenovic’s career-high six steals also led to a career-high three dunks.

    “”I just tried to read when they come off the pick and roll. … That’s how I picked off the ball and dunked it in the first half,”” Radenovic said.

    Said Dillon: “”It was amazing. I’ve never seen Ivan jump that high.””

    Meanwhile, ASU fans have never seen their team drop so low.

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