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ASU Men’s Basketball: Wildcats beat down Sun Devils in first conference game

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

In the first meeting of the season between ASU and the University of Arizona, the Wildcats got the best of the Sun Devils winning 73-49.

Junior forward Brandon Ashley finished with 13 points for Arizona, and junior guard Gerry Blakes was the high-point man for the Sun Devils with nine.

Arizona started the game on fire making four of its first five three-pointers only five minutes into the game. The Wildcats’ 9-0 run in the early minutes helped them jump out to a 15-7 lead. Senior forward Shaquielle McKissic tried to get the Sun Devils rolling with an old fashioned three-point play with 10 minutes left to cut the Wildcats’ lead to single digits. McKissic finished with eight points for the game.

ASU was out-rebounded and out-scored in the paint in the first half, and that could have something to do with sophomore forward Savon Goodman picking up three fouls before halftime.

But the big enemy of the Sun Devils in the first half was a familiar one: the turnover bug. The Devils turned the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes, with plenty of them unforced. Those 13 giveaways translated into 15 points for Arizona.

The Wildcats’ standout freshman guard Stanley Johnson was left out of the starting lineup this game, but left his mark on the dominant first half for Arizona, scoring 13 points and pulling in five rebounds as well. He finished the game with only 13 points, because of his foul trouble.

Even to start the second half ASU couldn’t find a way to handle Arizona’s defense, committing five more turnovers in the opening five minutes. The Sun Devils finished with a season high 22 turnovers for the game. Junior guard Roosevelt Scott joined Goodman in the foul trouble club, picking up two fouls to add to his two in the first half with about 13 minutes remaining in the game. Goodman, Scott, and Barnes all had at least three fouls.

Senior forward Jonathan Gilling came into the game and hit a three-pointer for the Sun Devils cutting what was once a 25 point Wildcat lead to 16. But just as Arizona had done all night, it killed the momentum capitalizing on ASU’s mistake’s. The Sun Devils failed to get a body on sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and he threw down a cutback dunk over a couple ASU defenders.

At the end of the day, ASU dug itself in too big of a hole to mount any sort of a comeback. Arizona came out with more energy straight out of the gates and once it got ahead, there was absolutely no looking back.

Player of the game: Eric Jacobsen

Jacobsen may not have had his best offensive game of the season, but neither did anybody else. What Jacobsen did do was limit Arizona’s points in the paint. For a team that relentlessly works to score easy buckets, Arizona only had 26 of its 73 total points come in the paint, and that is largely due to Jacobsen’s workhorse effort all game long.

Stat of the night: 7 offensive rebounds

For ASU being undersized compared to this long and tall Arizona team, the Sun Devils held Arizona to seven offensive boards, despite the fact that Goodman had to deal with foul trouble.

Biggest Disappointment: Gerry Blakes

Blakes is always going to be one of if not the most aggressive player on the court at all times. But this game, it seemed that his aggressiveness got the best of him, turning the ball over eight times. This is easily the best defense the Sun Devils will play all year, and next time Blakes will have to take care of and distribute the ball a lot better come their next meeting with the Wildcats.

What’s Next:

ASU travels to Corvalis to take on Oregon State on January 8.

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