Ty Abbott commented that the he and his teammates simply executed their game plan, especially in the first 20 minutes where they led by as many as 37 points and limited the Cardinal to 25 percent shooting in that period.
“We had energy and effort in the first half,” commented Abbot. “We got stops and guys looking for each other on the offensive end and we knocked down open shots – that was the biggest thing. I don’t know if we had better shots, but we took our time during our shots and were focused.
“We realized that two games before that we missed a lot of open looks. We made it a point the last couple of days to relax and shoot our shot regardless if someone is there or not. Our guys did that today and it paid off. ”
Abbott made his six first three-point attempts, and was overall 11 of 14 from the field. However, he couldn’t find any profound explanations for one of his best games in a Sun Devil uniform.
“Players did a good job setting screens for me,” explained Abbott pragmatically. “Sometimes you get open looks and keep on going. It’s a snowball effect.”
The level of play for ASU in the second half was in sharp contrast to the first. The Sun Devils were outscored 48-34 and their lead was cut to 12 points with just over three and half minutes left in the game. Abbott knows that when reviewing the game film of this victory, that the coaching staff will be spending a great deal of time on their second half performance.
“We’ve been trying to get back to that energy level and tenacity on defense,” said Abbott. “We showed signs of it. Obviously we had some slippage in the end and we have something to build on. In the second half we couldn’t find our purpose and we were lackadaisical on their shooters and they hit some of their shots to wake us up. We have to stop that.”
ASU is 5-4 at the midway point of Pac-10 play, for just the third time in the past 15 seasons as well as for the second straight season. Going into today they are tied for 3rd in the league standings. Abbott isn’t concerned about what this win may or may not mean to the conference race and chose to concentrate on the bigger, long term picture.
“In the Pac-10 you can go either way with a win or a loss, or someone else’s win or loss,” said Abbott. “It doesn’t really matter where we are going in the Pac-10, as long as we figure out a way to win games, that will take care of itself.”
Abbott’s backcourt teammate Derek Glasser has been struggling as of late, and for the first time this season the senior (and a virtual four-year starter) was scratched from the starting lineup by Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek. Abbott acknowledged that Glasser’s benching didn’t only send a message to Glasser but also to the entire squad.
“It shows that (Sendek) is willing to play whoever is going to go out there and get the job done for us and produce,” stated Abbott. “Derek did a great job responding to that and he came out and had 10 assists. He did a great job for us today. I was very happy to see that.”
Over the past seven games Abbott is averaging 18.6 points and 7.0 boards and is 28-of-57 (.438) from the three-point stripe in that time. His season-high 29 points vs. Stanford on Saturday was his third 20-point game of the season. Needless to say that the guard’s confidence is as high as it has been in a while, but as always he manages to put it all in the proper perspective.
“The basket is the same size,” quipped Abbott. “(my teammates) are finding me and I’m hitting open shots. It’s not like I’m going out there 1-on-5. I’m getting open and I’m lucky enough to knock down the open ones.”