Perhaps the most significant factor in Arizona State’s three-game winning streak: The Sun Devils are rebounding better, and they’re doing it as a team.

From Dec. 21 to Jan. 16, a stretch of seven games, ASU outrebounded just one opponent, struggling Washington State. Since then, the Sun Devils have outrebounded three teams in a row — Utah, Colorado and California — with several players contributing.

Against Colorado, four players — sophomore forward Eric Jacobsen, senior center Jordan Bachynski, senior forward Shaquielle McKissic and sophomore guard Jahii Carson — led the way with six rebounds apiece. In Wednesday’s victory at California, four players — Jacobsen, McKissic, senior guard Jermaine Marshall and junior forward Jonathan Gilling — again each grabbed six.

Assistant coach Stan Johnson listed three reasons for the improvement:

— ASU has improved defensively. The Sun Devils are forcing teams to take tougher shots, and opponents aren’t getting to the rim as much. As a result, ASU is in better rebounding position.

— Giving Jacobsen more minutes. Inserting the 6-foot-10 forward into the starting lineup has given the Sun Devils more size and helped Bachynski inside. It’s also eliminated some of the mismatches ASU faced at power forward earlier this season.

— The guards are doing their part. For his size, the 5-10 Carson always has rebounded well, but lately Marshall is starting to do his part. The coaching staff has reminded the 6-4 Marshall that college basketball’s top shooting guards should be “stat-sheet” stuffers. They know he’s capable. At Penn State last season, Marshall averaged 4.6 rebounds and even pulled down 10 in a loss against Michigan State.

Entering Saturday’s Pac-12 contest at Stanford, the Sun Devils are 5-3 in the Pac-12. They were outrebounded in all three losses. There’s still improvement to make — ASU remains a poor offensive-rebounding team — but it’s a start.

“We’re doing a much better job than we were to start the year, and even as of a couple weeks ago we’ve improved,” Johnson said. “ … I just think our guys, even though it’s been such an emphasis for us, it’s almost like the light’s coming on. They’re saying, ‘We’re going to help each other, and we’re going to gang rebound.’ ’’
Big shot Jermaine

Marshall might have hit ASU’s biggest shot of the season Wednesday, drilling a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that forced overtime at California.

“You know what’s funny about that?” Johnson said. “He was smiling during the timeout (before the play). He was upbeat, saying, ‘We’re winning this game.’ Then he walked out there smiling. It was amazing.”

A groin injury suffered Jan. 14 has slowed Marshall, but he looked fine against California, scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

“I’m just about there,” Marshall said of being 100 percent healthy. “It’s more mental than anything.”

Johnson said Marshall adds more than scoring. He brings maturity.

“The beauty of Jermaine, and why we were so excited about having him, is he’s played in big games,” Johnson said. “He’s played at Penn State. He’s been on the big stage. He’s had big nights. He’s just savvy. I think he lives for those moments.”