(Photo: Nick Krueger/WCSN)
The Sun Devils’ 86-80 win over UNLV on Tuesday showed everyone why Jahii Carson is one of the top guards in the country.
Carson’s career-high 40-point effort came in front of a loud crowd in the Thomas & Mack Center, and it is evident that he plays best when it matters most.
However, Arizona State cannot always expect Carson to put up 40 points on the road. They are going to need forwards Shaquielle McKissic and Jonathan Gilling to both step up.
McKissic, who started the game, only ended up playing 13 minutes. He was a liability on defense, and shot 0-3 from the field.
In four games this season, McKissic is averaging 4.8 points per game. There was a lot of hype surrounding him after he put up 33 points in the Maroon and Gold game, but so far all he’s been is hype.
McKissic has no easy task in replacing former star player Carrick Felix. Felix averaged nearly 16 points per game and 8.1 rebounds last season. I’m not expecting McKissic to put up those numbers in his first season, but he needs to make sure he can be an effective defender and rebounder.
Now, if you would have told me before the game that Gilling would finish with eight rebounds and six assists, I would have thought that he had a solid game. But in analyzing the game, one can see that Gilling did not seem comfortable shooting the ball. Gilling went 0-9 from the field, including seven missed three-pointers.
Last season, we saw Gilling struggle multiple times on the road. If the Sun Devils are going to get anywhere this season, they will need Gilling to drain threes in places other than Wells Fargo Arena.
What we learned:
- Jermaine Marshall is a legitimate starting shooting guard. Marshall has been everything that last year’s shooting guard Evan Gordon wasn’t – consistent. Yes, the Sun Devils have yet to face a very good team, but even when ASU played garbage non-conference teams last season Gordon struggled. Marshall, on the other hand, is averaging 18.5 points per game and is shooting 46-percent from behind the arc. He also plays better in big games. Five of Jermaine Marshall’s 20-point games have come against ranked opponents.
- Quick and lengthy big men can score on center Jordan Bachynski. Bachynski has been great at swatting shots this season, but he has struggled against athletic forwards. UNLV’s Roscoe Smith and Khem Birch both did a nice job against Bachynski. Smith recorded 18 points and 21 rebounds and Birch had 11 points and 14 rebounds. The issue that the Sun Devils face against players like these is that Bachynski is probably still their best defensive option. Backup center Eric Jacobsen is a quicker defender than Bachynski, but he is prone to foul trouble and can be an offensive liability.
- Freshman forward Egor Koulechov is a work horse coming off the bench. Koulechov hustles for steals and rebounds and he is a very unselfish player. Head coach Herb Sendek kept Koulechov in the game for a career-high 34 minutes. In those 34 minutes, Koulechov finished with five points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.