(Photo courtesy: ASU Athletics)
Jahii Carson set a career high 40 points and had seven assists leading the Sun Devils to an 86-80 win over the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas Tuesday night.
“I try and go out there and play my game,” Carson said. “Coach puts the ball in my hands and lets me make plays and my teammates have the confidence in me to make plays so it gives me that much more confidence to do my thing.”
Carson’s 35th and 36th points to break his old career high that he set in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas against Stanford last season came on two made free throws with 4:25 left in the game
” I knew it was just one of those games where I had to come out and attack early,” Carson said. “I knew it was just one of those games where I would have to be aggressive.”
The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels lived up to their nickname in the first half and came out fast, leading ASU 11-7 through the first four minutes. The game remained close throughout the rest of the half with neither team being able to stretch past a four-point lead and ASU was down at the halftime break 38-34.
Jahii Carson kept the Sun Devils in the game scoring 14 of the team’s 34 first half points. The Mesa High School product turned it on in the second half for another 26 points to total 40. It was the first time a Sun Devil had put up 40 points since James Harden against UTEP in 2008 and the fifth time an ASU basketball player has scored 40 points in the history of the program.
” Amazing, utterly amazing” head coach Herb Sendek said. “And he scored very much within the framework of what we do as a team….it’s not overly complicated, we try to do a few things to get him those lanes and let him play.”
The game continued back and forth throughout the second half with nine ties and 11 lead changes. A layup by Jermaine Marshall with three minutes and 15 seconds left to play put the Sun Devils up 81-74 and gave ASU a seven-point lead, its biggest of the night and the team from Tempe was able to hold on from there.
Also aiding Carson in the win was Jordan Bachynski who recorded his fourth straight double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Jermaine Marshall added 20 points of his own, the tenth 20-point game of Marshall’s career.
“I thought Jordan (Bachynski) had a terrific game for us,” Sendek said. ” I also thought Jermaine’s (Marshall) play was excellent especially down the home stretch.”
Roscoe Smith had a very impressive 18 points and 21 boards in the losing effort for UNLV. Khem Birch also had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Runnin’ Rebels.
ASU shot 35 of 79 from the field good for 44 percent but only 25 percent ( five of twenty) from beyond the arc.
The Sun Devils also only managed to make 11 of 20 from the charity stripe.
“There were several good looks that we didn’t convert and hopefully over time we’ll make more of those,” Sendek said.
ASU returns home Friday night to face Bradley at Wells Fargo Arena, the game tips at 7p.m.
” You gotta keep your poise, you gotta keep ice in your veins and you gotta move forward and keep making plays,” Carson said. “If we keep doing that it’s going to be huge for us down the road.”