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ASU Men’s Basketball: Sun Devils cruise to easy win over Kennesaw State

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

 

In its second game of the Legends Classic, Arizona State cruised to a 91-53 win over Kennesaw State. Although the Sun Devils were sloppy in parts, they relatively overpowered the Owls.

ASU was dominant inside and on the glass in the first half, and 20 of its first 21 points came from inside the paint. Sophomore point guard Tra Holder was especially successful getting into the paint and used his floater to rack up 10 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting.

The Sun Devils jumped to an early 21-8 lead in the first nine minutes of the first half, but they hit a rough patch, turning the ball over five times in a three minutes stretch in which the they did not score a point.

The Owls were paced by senior forward Nigel Pruitt’s 10 first-half points, but as a team, KSU shot just 28 percent in the first frame. Pruitt would finish with a game-high 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting.

ASU also held a 28-13 rebounding advantage going into the half.

At the beginning of the second half, the Sun Devils went on a 11-4 run to stretch the lead to 20 and kept it there for the remainder of the game.

Junior forward Obinna Oleka had his best game in his young career in Tempe, racking up 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting and five rebounds. Oleka had issues handling the ball in the first two games, but he displayed his versatility on both ends.

While ASU head coach Bobby Hurley couldn’t have been pleased with ASU’s 11 turnovers in the first half, the Sun Devils were much cleaner in the second half and did not turn the ball over once.

Player of the game: Eric Jacobsen

Jacobsen took advantage of being the tallest player on the court, racking up his first double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He fought on the boards consistently and ASU reaped the rewards. He also found soft spots in KSU’s zone for ASU’s perimeter player to dump off to him when they drove into the paint.

Biggest concern: Savon Goodman’s foul habits

Once again, junior forward Savon Goodman found himself in quick foul trouble in the first half. Goodman fouled out in 22 minutes against Belmont, and he picked up three fouls in the first half. However, his efficiency and production numbers continue to be insane, notching nine points three boards in 14 minutes.

However, the already-thin ASU frontcourt can’t afford its best all-around post player to recklessly run into charges and commit sloppy fouls on defense. His aggressiveness is what makes him a good player for the Sun Devils, but it has also shown to backfire when that aggressiveness isn’t controlled.

Unsung hero: Gerry Blakes

While it was a quieter game for Blakes, the 6-foot-4 guard made up for a scoreless first half with nine rebounds in the first frame. He would finish with a team-high and career-best 12 rebounds. His eight second-half points and strong defense also helped ASU pull away and keep the Owls at bay throughout the game.

Stat of the night: 53 rebounds for ASU

The Sun Devils commanded the glass all night, embodied by Blakes and senior center Eric Jacobsen ranking up double-digit boards. As a team, ASU outrebounded KSU 53-24. ASU was more aggressive and gang-rebounded frequently, something it will have to do regularly when it plays much bigger teams on its schedule.

What’s next?

The Sun Devils travel to play North Carolina State in Brooklyn, New York, as part of the Legends Classic on November 23.

 

You can reach Zac Pacleb @ZacPacleb or via email at zacpacleb@gmail.com

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