Arizona State's Evan Gordon had a career-high 29 points and led the 5-1 Sun Devils to a 90-70 win over the Sacramento State Hornets Saturday night in front of 5,007 fans in Wells Fargo Arena.
Football coach Todd Graham and members of the Arizona State football team were in attendance and showed off the prized Territorial Cup to all in attendance.
The next game for the Sun Devils is against the 4-3 Hartford Hawks of the America East Conference, here is the skinny:
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Listen: 620-AM in the metro Phoenix area or ASU All Access on the web.
The Hawks have a verified stud in sophomore Mark Nwakamma. Nwakamma, the America East Player of the Week is blossoming nicely after being named to the America East All-Rookie team last season.
The 6'6" forward currently leads the team in scoring, rebounds and is second in assists behind point guard Yolonzo Moore II.
The Hawks are riding a three-game winning streak coming into Wednesday's matchup in the desert. This is the first of three trips out west as they visit Houston, Texas next week to take on the Rice Owls and Boulder, Colorado later in the month to take on the reigning Pac-12 Champion Colorado Buffaloes.
The Sun Devils are off to their fourth 6-1 start in the past 20 years and will try to hit 7-1 for the fifth time since they joined the Pac-10 in 1978, 35 years ago.
One of the biggest surprises in the Pac-12 this year, the Sun Devils were predicted to finish anywhere from eighth to 12th from the so-called experts. Granted, their non-conference schedule is light and they lost to the only ranked team they played, but they hung in there a lot better than most would have imagined.
Freshman phenom Jahii Carson scored his career-high 30 points that game and never backed down.
They will have a tougher time once they enter conference play, but the light scheduling is a great morale booster and confidence builder.
Looking around the Pac-12 at other teams that have lost to lesser non-conference opponents, i.e. UCLA, Washington, Stanford, I would venture to say that Arizona State is going to have a great season down the stretch.
- Jahii Carson —126 total, 18.0 average
- Fifth in Pac-12
- Jahii Carson —36 total, 5.1 average
- Third in Pac-12
- Jonathan Gilling —60 total, 8.6 average
- Fifth in Pac-12
- Jordan Bachynski —35 total, 5.0 average
- 2nd best in the nation
- Carrick Felix —14 total, 2.0 average
- Evan Gordon —14 total, 2.0 average
- Fourth in Pac-12
- Field Goal Pct:
- Carrick Felix —44-of-75 for .587
- Fourth in Pac-12
- Three-Point Pct:
- Carrick Felix —12-of-27 for .444
- Seventh in Pac-12
- Free Throw Pct:
- Evan Gordon —20-of-26 for .769
- 15th in the Pac-12
This season is shaping up nicely for Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils. Two players have cracked the top 10 in scoring since Sendek took the helm in 2006.
The top five spots are held by two current NBA players in James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph, so it is safe to say that that is hallowed ground. Freshman phenom Jahii Carson scored 30 vs. Creighton on Nov. 24 for the sixth spot and Evan Gordon's 29 on Dec. 1 ranks eighth.
The Sun Devils 46 first-half points was the second highest first half on the season and the fourth game with 40+ points raising their first half average from 27.7 to 38.3—an amazing improvement.
THE INDUSTRY BUZZ
Acclaimed sports writer Seth Davis wrote in his Fresh Takes about Jahii Carson for SI.com and had this to say about the redshirt freshman:
Carson stands just 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, so he needs a high-octane offense to be effective. Sendek has made him feel right at home. Heading into Wednesday's game, Jahii was ranked second in the Pac-12 in scoring (21.0 ppg), third in assists (5.0) and eighth in three-point percentage (46.2). Carson also has a bevy of fleet-footed running mates in 6-2 senior guard Chris Colvin, 6-1 junior guard Evan Gordon, and 6-6 senior swingman Carrick Felix. "My teammates have bought into this idea as well," Carson says. "People say that ASU is a slowdown basketball team, but that's definitely something we'd like to change."
Doug Haller who covers Arizona State Football and Basketball for the Arizona Republic likes the play of senior forward Carrick Felix who was recently named Pac-12 Player of the Week:
But flying just under the radar —although over the rim —is Felix, a 6-foot-6 wing who quietly has gotten off to a strong start. In Friday's win over Arkansas, he scored a career-high 24 points on 8-of-10 shooting, a performance coaches think might have been his best at ASU. The next night, Felix had 17 points and five rebounds in the Creighton loss.
Jack MacGruder of Fox Sports Arizona has also taken notice of Carrick Felix and his change in philosophy and how he plays the game:
A senior forward, Felix made it a priority to be more aggressive this season, but he also has found that good things come to those who are patient.
“I am just playing slow and playing my game, waiting for things to come to me," he said. "When you have a point guard like Jahii Carson, he is finding me at good spots, and so is everybody else. We have played together for awhile now. I guess you can say we’ve been used to each other.”
I can see that this game may be taken lightly by Sendek's squad, and that would be a huge mistake. The Sun Devils need to start off quick and build up a comfortable lead early in the game.
The fast play of Carson, Felix and Gordon should have no problem hitting their shots early on. Strong defensive play by Gilling and Bachynski will solidify the lead and I predict the Devils will have another 40-point first half in their future.
Coming out of the intermission, the Devils need to continue to wear down the Hawks with their fast play and they will have no problem getting the W at home.
Hartford 61, Arizona State 83