Photo: (Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Arizona State played and beat a deceptively solid Bradley team 70-58 Friday night. Although the Sun Devils played at a slower pace, and a pace that Coach Sendek said Bradley dictated throughout the game, ASU was able to secure another team win.
The Bradley Braves stuck with ASU for an extended period of time in the first half. It got to a point where one could see that the Sun Devils players were surprised that Bradley was still keeping the game close.
Jermaine Marshall went around giving high-fives to his other four teammates on the floor and calmly but confidently said to them, “let’s go” after a timeout with about 15 minutes left in the first half.
That is what a Sun Devils fan wants to see from ASU early on in the season; confidence and assurance that although things are not going according to plan at the moment they are going to be fine in the end.
Midway through the first half, newly inserted starter Egor Koulechov scored a tough lay-up that turned into an and-one on an inbound play ASU routinely practices. Shortly after the lay-up and free throws, Jahii Carson came down and made back-to-back three pointers to extend the lead to double digits.
Carson had been shooting an ungodly 57 percent from behind the arc coming into this game, and finished with an impressive three of six from three once again.
He did although have a full plate as he guarded Walt Lemon Jr. for much of the game. Lemon Jr. is a big point guard who can shoot and use both hands when he makes his way into the paint.
When the Braves guard made his way into the interior Friday night he knew when to make quick lay-up attempts and passes. He used his footwork and make a shot; which was only complimented by his ability to use both his right and left hand once he reached the hoop.
Lemon Jr.’s 20 points on nine of 18 shooting along with his teammate, Tyshon Pickett’s game high 23 points on 10 of 17 shooting kept the game competitive.
The Sun Devils moved into a full court press and half-court trap during the middle of Friday’s matchup. Again, Sendek mentioned that this strategy arose because Bradley was in control of the game’s tempo.
“We were trying to do a little something to speed up the tempo a little bit, and even at that they were content to break it and then reset it and run a play,” Sendek said.
The second half started to wind down the game was not close, however ASU still needed to hammer a few more nails to the coffin.
Back-to-back pick and roll plays with Jordan Bachynski on the roll where the Canadian dunked and laid in four points helped this effort. On both plays the coaches on the ASU bench looked at each other seemingly unimpressed and telepathically saying this should have been occurring all game long.
Tracking back to Carson, he had another string of plays later in the game that again exerted why he receives so much attention and is so pertinent to this team’s success.
It started when a Bradley turnover became an outlet pass to Carson. The point guard had a Braves player standing right in the middle of paint attempting to stop Carson from scoring. But the sophomore guard secured the outlet, dribbled to the center of the court, euro-stepped his way around the defender, and spun the ball off the backboard into the hoop.
Plays such as that do not have to be made. However, elite players make that play. League ready players make that play. One-on-one, using the skills in their basketball artillery to exert their dominance.
Shortly after the fancy two points, Carson was being hit and touched by the different players as he penetrated the painted area. With the newly inserted NCAA and Arrested Development inspired “no-touching” rules, there should have unequivocally been a foul called. Rather, Carson shrugged off two men as if he was running a ball through a gap in an offensive line, and then contorted his body so that he could throw in a lay-up high off the backboard for another tough two points.
Those plays show why Carson gets so much attention, but the play that displayed why he’s so important came later.
The second year star was moving toward a loose ball on his end when a Bradley player dove toward it landing on both the floor and Carson’s leg. The point guard took a while to get up as play continued and then shook off the incident.
“I saw the position he was coming from, so I tried to ease up and I think my leg got caught into him diving and it felt a little awkward but I don’t think it’s something to worry about,” Carson explained after the game. “It took me awhile to get the blood flowing back through it. It’s sore I think right now but I’m alright.”
This ASU basketball team seems to be building itself upon the foundation of production from other players at various parts of the game knowing that the leadership and spectacular play from Carson will uplift them if they provide him with enough help.
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