Jordan Bachysnki had career-highs in both points and rebounds as he and the Sun Devils made a mighty loud statement on Saturday, knocking off the UCLA Bruins 78-60 at Wells Fargo Arena to complete the weekend sweep of the Los Angeles schools and remain near the top of the Pac-12 standings.
Bachysnki finished the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocked shots, breaking out of mini-slump to help propel ASU to their first win over UCLA (16-5, 6-2) since 2010. The center helped the Sun Devils control the paint early and often against the undersized Bruins as ASU both outrebounded and outscored UCLA by 20, imposing their will throughout the game.
"I knew I'd have a slight advantage in the post against the Wear twins," said Bachysnki afterwards. "I'm taller and bigger than them so I knew that if I got it, they were going to come in and double team me. So I knew that if I wanted to score I needed to make a quick move and that's what I did in the first half. And then in the second half they were coming even faster so I knew I needed to seal them even higher. I just knew what I had to do."
Bachynski, who averaged just 7.5 points in the team's previous four outings, found himself on the bench early on once again after struggling in the game's opening minutes. However, after the quick breather, the junior poured in 14 points on 7-8 shooting while pulling down 9 rebounds before halftime, igniting the crowd of 9,337 and giving the Sun Devils a 6 point lead at the break.
"Everyone knows I've had a slump for the past couple of games," he said. "It's just that I know I can make those baskets and it's applying it to the games because in practice I never miss. And we're always shooting jump-hooks, it just took time, I guess. I had to get my confidence back.
"I've kind of struggled on the boards this year and I knew that's where I need to step it up. I just took it personally. I went after every board I could."
Nearly matching Bachysnki was senior forward Carrick Felix who followed up another strong performance of his own against USC on Thursday with a game-high 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Combined, Felix and Bachysnki shot 18-24 from the field, most of which came in the paint.
"We knew we had them in size and JB, man, he was being a beast today," said Felix. "I was proud of him. He hadn't played good in the past two games but he was a presence tonight and that's what we need from him."
The Sun Devils took command early in the second half, smothering the Bruins defensively and limiting their second chance point opportunities. UCLA shot just 29% in the second half, including 5-24 overall from behind the three point line.
The Bruins entered the contest averaging 78 points per game, led by their talented freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams. While the two combined for 37 points in the loss, neither appeared to find any rhythm against the Sun Devil defense, most notably Felix.
"I was just trying to play (Muhammad) straight up and just contain him," he said. "He's definitely a really good player and a really good scorer and I just wanted to go out there and play some hard defense and do it for my team."
"Just another chapter in what has to be, to me, one of the all-time great senior years," said Head Coach Herb Sendek on the play of Felix. "He's just doing it night in and night out consistently on both ends of the floor. Just the heart that he's playing with, it's fun to watch. And you just can't help but feel so good for him because none of this has come easy."
Jonathan Gilling posted his fifth game of double-digit rebounds with 12, two nights after recording 11 against USC. The sophomore forward also added a career-high 8 assists, making his presence felt on a day when his shot was off.
Freshman point guard Jahii Carson had his consecutive games of 20 or more points streak snapped at four, finishing with 12 points on 4-16 shooting. Despite that, Carson also finished with eight assists and knocked down four free throws late when UCLA tried making a push before the Sun Devils put the game out of reach.
"I think our guys, more than anything, played together,' said Sendek. "I think they're getting a better understanding of each other and what we're trying to accomplish.
"And then I think we owe a lot to Jahii. Even though he didn't shoot the ball particularly well today, the ball is in his hands so much and he has a great ability to make his teammates better. He just kind of controls things for us."
With the win, the Sun Devils completed their first sweep of USC and UCLA since 2010, giving themselves some momentum as they set out on the road next week when they travel to Washington to take on the Huskies and Cougars.
"The sweep of the LA schools is huge," said Bachynski. "It helps our momentum. It helps our confidence. And I mean it feels good. It feels so much better to win and two sweep the two schools, I mean, UCLA is a great team."
"Our thing now is just to continue doing what we're doing," Felix added. "The Pac-12 now is very good. Every team is coming out to play. You've just got to make sure every game that you're ready because every game is going to be a battle coming down to the wire."