(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Las Vegas isn’t only America’s playground, it also belongs to Jahii Carson.
Most kids Carson’s age go there for their 21st birthdays to try their luck at the casinos for the first time. While the open- container laws, spectacular shows and excess of pools and restaurants don’t hurt either, Carson is there to dominate on the hardwood.
Whether it’s at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of UNLV or at the MGM Grand Arena right on the strip, the 5-foot-11 Carson seems larger than life and performs incredibly well in Sin City.
“I feel like its showtime in Vegas, everyone has a lot of energy you know the gambling is going around,” Carson said. “People are there to see a show so I try to put on one for them.”
In his last five games in Las Vegas, Carson is shooting 53-89 from the field 7-12 from beyond the arc and 31-39 from the free throw line while averaging 28.8 points per game.
Three of Carson’s top four scoring efforts have come in Las Vegas. He was 16-25 from the floor and dropped 40 points on Nov. 19, 2013 against UNLV. Then he scored 34 points against Stanford last season in the Pac-12 Tournament which was a Pac-12 freshman tournament record. Finally he put up 30 points against then-No. 13 Creighton in the Las Vegas Invitational last season.
“We all play well in Vegas, I love the atmosphere that’s there and it’s going to be a really fun tournament,” center Jordan Bachynski said.
Carson’s success Las Vegas started long before his ASU career. He started playing there around the age of eight and faced off in AAU games against former Indiana center Cody Zeller, current Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell and Oklahoma State forward Le’Bryan Nash according to Carson
“I have a lot of memories being like 12 or 13 in Vegas up till now as well,” Carson said.
Although Carson may play well on the road, the Sun Devils have struggled as a whole away from Wells Fargo Arena as of late. ASU is 2-9 on the road this season and 2-7 on the road in conference play only knocking off USC and Cal away from home in conference play.
The Sun Devils have even struggled on neutral courts this season going 1-2 at the Wooden Legacy Tournament with losses to the University of Miami and Creighton while the only win came against the College of Charleston.
“It’s our responsibility to be as comfortable as possible wherever we play,” head coach Herb Sendek said. “You gotta play some games on the road and some games away.”
Although they have faced a tough stretch on the road, the Sun Devils conference season in the new year has been no easy task. ASU has now has played 15 straight games vs. RPI top-100 teams and hasn’t played a team outside the top-100 since Jan. 9 at USC.
Although ASU lost to Oregon State, the Cal Bears were able to fend off Colorado which allowed the Sun Devils have a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. ASU will play the winner of the game between Washington State and Stanford on Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. MT on Fox Sports 1. The Cardinal and Cougars play Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. MT on the Pac-12 Network.
ASU currently sits at No. 37 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA which still puts them comfortably in the NCAA tournament.
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