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Poor practices hurt Wildcats against Devils?

Citizen Staff Writer



TEMPE – Jordan Hill said Arizona’s practices may have led to Sunday night’s 70-68 loss at Arizona State, or at least some of the Wildcats’ poor play.

“It all comes down to practice,” Hill said. “The last couple of practices should (have been) way better. Practice hasn’t been perfect. Practice is how you play. We have to go into the next practices going into Washington and make every play and minute (count). We have to play hard.”

UA coach Russ Pennell said he disagreed with the assessment by Hill, who has blamed losses on poor workouts other times this season.

“Maybe they (practices) weren’t quite as long,” Pennell said. “You kind of go in stages. . . . I didn’t think that had anything to do with tonight. We were playing the No. 11 team in the country on the road in their building. They are a good team.”

Hill did like the way the team competed after falling behind by 17.

“Showed that we have guts,” he said. “Mentally we are there. And physically we are getting there. We are a good team.”

Suspended subs miss trip

UA freshmen reserves Garland Judkins and D.J. Shumpert were not in attendance Sunday night after being suspended earlier in the week for failing to fulfill “team obligations.”

The two missed the Wildcats’ (18-9, 8-6) loss to Arizona State.

Pennell said he’s not sure what decision he’ll make on their status until later this week.

Judkins is averaging 2.4 points per game in 18 contests. Shumpert is scoreless in three games.

Role players help Devils

And the winner for outstanding performance by a male athlete in a supporting role is . . . Rihards Kuksiks.

In a game featuring several NBA sure things, role players helped Arizona State win.

Kuksiks sank 5 of 10 three-pointers, including two in the final three minutes that thwarted Arizona rallies.

“They were giving me open looks,” said the sophomore, who finished with 17 points. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I try to make them pay?’ It’s like disrespect.”

Kuksiks’ shots helped stretch a defense that was relentless. The difference this season is he is playing with more confidence.

“We don’t usually have to twist his arm to take them,” Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said.


The Arizona Republic

Pendergraph stays calm

Before the game, as Jeff Pendergraph was about to be introduced, Sendek delivered a last-second reminder to his senior forward: Passion over emotion. Focus over emotion.

Those words paid off in the final seconds of ASU’s win.

With 0:26 left, Pendergraph calmly sank two free throws to break a 68-68 tie. Later, he grabbed his 12th rebound.

“I couldn’t be prouder of Jeff,” said Sendek, who celebrated his 46th birthday in front of 14,123 at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Arizona Republic

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