When sophomore Keala King was dismissed last week from the Arizona State basketball team, players knew they would need to step up to fill the void offensively. Two games later, production has been found in sophomore wing Chanse Creekmur.
After shooting 6-for-24 from 3-point range through his first eight games of the season, the guard has been shooting lights out as of late. Since King -- who in 13 games was tied with junior Trent Lockett as the leading scorer on the team -- left the program prematurely, Creekmur has shot 75 percent from the field and 73 percent from behind the arc.
In Saturday's 76-66 win against Oregon State, Creekmur scored a career high 24 points and hit a couple big 3-pointers down the stretch to help seal the win for ASU. The 6-foot-5 wing cited more confidence in himself and better team play as the reasons for his increase in numbers.
"We're just capitalizing on good shots," Creekmur said. "We're finishing around the hoop and knocking down our shots.
"I was just in a slump at the beginning of the year, shooters go through slumps. My confidence is up right now, so it's always good to shoot confident."
Creekmur has seen an increase of minutes lately as well, averaging a team-high 37.8 minutes in the last four games. With the team constantly adapting its offensive schemes to fit its personnel, Creekmur has also had to assume new positions while the season has progressed.
"Guys had to learn new spots on the fly here in transition as our team has changed, and Chanse has expanded his range of spots on the court," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "He's shooting the ball exceptionally well, and he's playing a lot of minutes. He's really done a great job for us."
The Sun Devils go on the road this week to face Colorado and Utah, respectively. In preparation for Thursday's game against Colorado, ASU will need to find a way to slow down sophomore forward Andre Roberson, who is averaging 11.5 points and 11.4 rebounds this season.
"We're just going to have to battle and know where he is and try and get a body on him," Sendek said. "Some guys just have a knack, a sixth sense for getting the ball. Other guys the ball can hit in the head or the hands and they don't come down with it. He's one of those guys who he gets the ball."
ASU will play without Lockett, the team's leading scorer and vocal leader Thursday against Colorado. Lockett on the mend from a sprained ankle suffered late in Saturday's game against Oregon State.
"Trent is unlikely in the foreseeable future, but we'll continue to evaluate him on a day-by-day basis," Sendek said. "Obviously that's a significant loss for our team; no one player can make up for his absence. We're going to have to do it collectively."
Lockett will still travel with the team and contribute leadership. According to Sendek, Lockett was at practice Monday wearing a walking boot while on crutches and offering support and coaching his fellow teammates.
"He was like having another coach at practice," Sendek said. "We expect him to give the best leadership possible, even if he's not playing."
Sendek said he will only look to junior Chris Colvin and freshman walk-on Max Heller to play point guard in Lockett's absence.
"We can't just pile on those guys," he said. "Everybody has to go into this weekend knowing that they have to carry an extra bucket of water."
Sendek credited his team's recent offensive improvement to better ball movement; however, he stated the team still needed to fix its turnover problem.
"I'm very pleased with our improvement outside of the turnover bug," he said. "55 percent (from the field) against the quality of defenses we've played is impressive. 50 percent from three is astounding. Those are two steps in the right direction, and I think more than any other factor, it's traceable to the fact that our guys have improved the ball movement on our offense."