Evan Gordon, who was averaging a dismal 7.5 points a game before Saturday night’s performance, knew it was only a matter of time before he would love up to high expectations that were placed on him.
“I talked to Coach Sendek and he has pulled me aside a couple times and told me it’s about your self-talk.” Gordon said. “My brother has been through the slump, I have been in slumps before so just staying with it I eventually knew it was going to come.”
With his well-known older brother, New Orleans Hornets’ Eric Gordon in attendance, the younger Gordon was nonchalant about his big performance in front of his brother who is more than qualified to offer him some pointers.
“It’s exciting I guess” Gordon added with a smile. “I’ve played good in front of him, I’ve played bad in front of him so at least he wont critique me too much tonight. It was good seeing him up there.
“He [Eric] called me after my first game and he came out to Las Vegas and talked to me about my game. He said when you’re shooting like that, take it to the hole more and get it through the hoop before you start shooting outside.”
Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek saw more from the guard than just his offensive performance. He noted that Gordon’s performance on the other end of the court has been impressive amid his shooting slump this year.
“The one thing I’ll say about Evan is through that entire stretch, he was really good on defense,” Sendek remarked. “A lot of the times when someone struggles on offense, they aren’t into it defensively because their mind is someplace else. His defense has been really good, and that is not as easy as it may sound.”
ASU seemed to put the past in the past Saturday night, forgetting about their recent struggles in Wednesday’s win against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and their zone defense. Overall ASU shot 48.4 percent from the field, with 21 assists off of 31 made shots. It was a display that Sendek was content with.
“I really was pleased with our ball movement,” Sendek noted. “I just thought offensively for the most part, we were in really good rhythm tonight. We shared the ball, we moved the ball, and we made shots. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. When the ball is going into the basket, everything seems better.
Carrick Felix quietly had his first career double-double performance, with 21 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. The senior is undoubtedly having a solid season for the Sun Devils, now averaging more than 16 points and six rebounds a game.
“Carrick continues to play outstanding basketball on both ends of the floor.” Coach Sendek commented. “He had to guard (john) Dickson for most of the night down on the other end and he was on the glass and was 9-13 from the field and just had a terrific game”
“Carrick has been a glue guy for us.” Gordon also added about the senior forward. “When we need scoring, he is there with leadership so he has been stepping up.”
Freshman Eric Jacobson who entered tonight’s game with 10 rebounds and three offensive boards blew those numbers out of the water as he posted six offensive boards and nine rebounds, overall another element in tonight’s win.
“Eric Jacobsen did a really great job of covering the floor,” Sendek said. “For a young big guy he really moves his feet well, he has an extremely high basketball IQ. Carrick and Eric Jacobson both came up with their share of balls, and that’s an area that quite frankly we haven’t been good at for a long time so it was good to see those guys come up with those kind of plays to get some extra possessions.”
Beyond the offensive performances by Gordon and Felix, ASU defensively struggled at times to shut down the Hornet offense that seemed to keep their swarm alive, with four players with points in the double-digits.
“I thought for much of the second half our defense wasn’t up to standard.” Coach Sendek commented. “ At one point well into the second half they were shooting 57 percent from the field. And it seemed that even though we were shooting more, we were having a hard time getting any gap because our defense wasn’t what it needed to be.
“I think we got beat off the dribble, we got too spread out. To their credit they are a good shooting team and they made us pay.”
Arizona State now sets their sights to next game, Wednesday where they take on the 4-3 Hartford Hawks at Wells Fargo Arena.