(Photo: Josh Orcutt/WCSN)
Coming off their first victory against a power-5 conference opponent in their 79-76 victory over NC State, the Arizona State Sun Devils take on Marquette in championship game of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
Sophomore guard Tra Holder led all scorers in the victory over the Wolfpack with a career-high 22 points, while junior forward Savon Goodman wasn’t far behind picking up a season-high of his own with 21 points. Goodman also grabbed 16 rebounds, which was a game-high.
While ASU was the underdog in its semifinal victory, Marquette pulled off an upset as well against No. 22 LSU. After leading for most of the game, LSU’s freshman sensation Ben Simmons sparked a run to bring the Tigers back to the game, and a late layup gave his team its first lead of the game with under a minute left. After a crucial foul, Marquette knocked down clutch free throws to retake the lead, and eventually advance to the championship.
Marquette opened its season 1-2, losing to Belmont (who ASU beat earlier this season) and Iowa (by 28 points). Its slow start was a surprise to everyone given the returning talent from last season’s squad, but the victory over LSU may give the team a jumpstart for the rest of nonconference play.
Keys to the game
Winning on the glass
Goodman had maybe his best performance since becoming a Sun Devil in the NC State victory. Like most games, he found himself undersized yet still dominated the glass grabbing 16 rebounds. Marquette may present the biggest challenge Goodman and the Sun Devil frontcourt will face all season.
Marquette freshman power forward Henry Ellenson and sophomore center Luke Fischer, each standing at 6-foot-11, combined for 35 points and 19 rebounds in the win over LSU. LSU’s Simmons was also able to grab 20 rebounds of his own, so it’s not that a one-man show on the boards is impossible against this intimidating frontcourt of Marquette.
What will make or break ASU in winning the battle on the boards will be staying out of foul trouble. Senior center Eric Jacobsen, who has become notorious for racking up fouls, again found himself in trouble early against NC State. Goodman also finished with three personal fouls of his own.
Playing a complete game
ASU was close to building a double-digit lead and burying NC State around midway through the second half, but it began to play conservatively. This happened a lot last season, and the Sun Devils actually lost games that could’ve been potential upsets in the nonconference season.
There was a stretch where the Sun Devils began settling for jump shots, and wouldn’t even enter the three-point line until late in the shot clock. When it came down to the wire and NC State crawled back into the game, ASU went back to the post a lot more and attacked the basket like it was doing when its lead was built.
Marquette may be one of the streakiest opponents ASU’s schedule, so letting off the gas at any time could come back to bite them. The game tips off at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.