TEMPE — Arizona State coach Herb Sendek believes shot blockers are born, not created. And fortunately for the Sun Devils, Sendek has found a good one.
Jordan Bachynski had a school-record 12 blocked shots to go with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the first triple-double in Arizona State history, and the Sun Devils beat Cal State-Northridge 87-76 on Saturday.
“Rarely do you see that with 10 or more blocks,” Sendek said of Bachynski, who missed a triple-double by one block on Nov. 10 when the Sun Devils beat Central Arkansas. “It’s not a thing that’s easily taught. The great shot blockers I’ve had the opportunity to be around just have that knack.”
Bachynski, almost on cue, said his shot-blocking is a self-learned art.
“No one ever taught me how,” Bachynski said. “That just happened naturally. A big part is not trying to block your own man’s shot. Occasionally I’ll block the big man, but a lot of my blocks come off the help side.”
Cal State-Northridge coach Bobby Braswell said the 7-foot-2 Bachynski’s size made the difference early.
“He may only have had 13 points, but he was responsible for more like 25 or 20 points with the blocks and the rest,” said Braswell, whose roster doesn’t have a player taller than 6-foot-9. “He affected us, with our size, more than we expected.”
Jahii Carson scored a game-high 21 points, Evan Gordon finished with 20 and Carrick Felix added 17 for the Sun Devils, who are 8-1 for only the fourth time in 38 seasons and first time since 2008-09 when ASU started 12-1.
Stephan Hicks scored 18 points, Landon Drew finished with 16 and Josh Greene added 15 for the Matadors (7-3), who have lost three straight after opening the season 7-0.
Bachynski’s first blocked shot, in the game’s opening minutes, made the junior the seventh player in school history with 100 career blocks.
“When you have a shot blocker like that, it’s not just the ones he gets because the opponent can’t help start thinking about it,” Sendek said. “So he’s changing shots as well.”
Gordon scored 14 of his points as the Sun Devils opened a 41-31 lead at halftime.
After Arizona State stretched the lead to 15, the Matadors used a 7-0 run to pull within 58-50 with 12:44 to play. But the Sun Devils answered with four straight points to begin a 7-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Carson, a freshman from Mesa, has scored 20 or more points in five of the Sun Devils’ first nine games, the fourth-most 20-point games by a freshman in school history.
Cal State-Northridge recovered from a poor shooting first half in which it shot 33.3 percent from the floor to shoot 53.1 percent in the second half and finish at 42.6. Arizona State finished at 50.1 percent from the floor, but the Sun Devils made only 27 of 42 free throws.
“We still are leaving far too many points out there,” Sendek said.