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December 9, 2012When Arizona State's public address announcer informed those in attendance at Wells Fargo Arena that they'd witnessed the first ever triple double in school history, leading to the largest standing ovation of the night, its recipient didn't even know it.
Junior 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski was busy in a team huddle trying to figure out how to add to what would eventually be a 13 point, 12 rebound and school-record 12 blocked shot performance en route to what would become an 87-76 ASU win over Cal State Northridge in front of 5,099 in a Saturday matinee.
Bachysnki said he doesn't keep track of his in-game stats but became aware of its possibility when Sun Devil assistant Larry Greer pulled him aside just prior to the start of the second half and told him he was on pace to accomplish the unprecedented feat.
And then he did, with a remarkable 15:09 left in regulation on a left-handed jump hook in the lane, one of several such shots he'd made in the game and relatively unremarkable if not for the achievement that accompanied it.
"It was a long road," Bachynski said. "From my mission taking two years off, from coaches being patient with me, from my freshman year not playing pretty much at all, just the development that I've gone under, it's just a testament to the great coaching staff here. They do a phenomenal job developing players. I just feel really fortunate to be in the position where I was able to do that."
Perhaps most remarkably, the performance, which boosted ASU to a rare 8-1 and dropped Northridge to 7-3, came just one game after Bachynski wasn't used in the final 14:50 of a Wednesday win over Hartford, as freshman post player Eric Jacobsen sparked the Sun Devils.
"I'm proud of Eric for stepping up as a freshman, he did a phenomenal job but I'm not going to lie," Bachynski said. "Not playing much in that second half that much, I kind of took that personal. I'm happy for Eric and the great job he did. If I wasn't happy for him I wouldn't be a good teammate but that definitely is motivation and I think a good team, you feed off that. Not playing is just motivation to get better."
The Sun Devils built a 10 point lead at halftime and never saw it drop below an eight point advantage in a second half, but never really put the 7-3 Matadors away until an 8-1 run that started with a technical foul on the Cal-Northridge bench made it 79-62 at the 4:08 mark.
Bachysnki's effort wasn't the only impressive one for the Sun Devils. Senior wing Carrick Felix had 17 points, six rebounds and two critical steals in the first half that led to breakaway dunks and allowed ASU to build its lead to double digits.
"That was the key turning point in the game," Sendek said. "Once again, how fun is he to watch. His energy level is incredible and right now he kind of radiates joy when he plays."
ASU freshman guard Jahii Carson had 21 points -- his fifth 20 point game of the season already -- and six assists, and junior Evan Gordon had 20 points on just nine field goal attempts to go with four assists.
But all anyone wanted to talk about after the game was Bachysnki's afternoon for the ages.
"Having Jordan back there to save us on a number of occasions makes a world of difference," Sendek said. "Any time you have a shot blocker like that, it's not just the one he gets, the opponent can't help thinking about it a little bit, so he's also changing some other shots as well.
"It's not something I think is easily taught. The great shot blockers that I've had a chance to be around simply have that knack. It's not something you show film on or try to teach a guy to do."
Earlier in the week, it wasn't Bachynski's blocks -- he ranked second in the nation in the category entering Saturday's game -- that drew Sendek's ire, but his relative mediocrity as a rebounded given his unusual length.
"Coach Sendek too me aside [Tuesday] when I was averaging seven rebounds a game and he gave me a note that said in big, bold letters, 10 rebounds a game," Bachynski said. "In order to get those 10 rebounds you have to be aggressive. And I think at the beginning of the season I did a great job of that and I kind of slacked off being aggressive and I felt I was really able to bring that again."
Free throw shooting was again a glaring issue for the Sun Devils despite a huge disparity of 30 more attempts than their opponent.
"We're still leaving far too many out there," Sendek said. "Not only did we miss 15 but we missed three front ends of 1-and-1s so the grand total is 18 possible points left. Now you're not going to shoot 100 percent but I'd like to see us make some greater portion of those 18 than we did."
It was another in a long line of signs that Sendek isn't comfortable with his team's 8-1 record and expects more. The same goes for the team's expectations of Bachynski.
"He played his butt off," Felix said. "It's a great accomplishment, but he can't settle. He has to continue to work and hopefully do it again."