Hartford traveled cross-country and battled valiantly on Wednesday night, but a 9-0 ASU run late in the second half propelled Arizona State to a 71-63 victory. Freshman point guard Jahii Carson lead the way, totaling 20 points and seven assists for the Sun Devils.
Carson now owns four twenty-point games on the year, bouncing back after battling flue like symptoms last week. The freshman point guard seems to rarely disappoint, and is on track to be ASU's biggest name since James Harden.
Tonight's Robin to Carson's Batman was rather surprising. Fellow freshman and backup center Eric Jacobsen cashed in with a career-high 16 points. Jacobsen provided excellent energy off the bench, and continues to earn late game playing time over Jordan Bachynski.
"Eric is giving us great minutes, really proud of his contribution," ASU head coach Herb Sendek said. "Eric provides us with someone who can as a big guy go out on the perimeter and guard, and still that allows us to run our offense.'
ASU's inability to hit free throws and mediocre three-point defense kept the Hawks alive throughout the game. On the night, John Gallagher's squad went 12-for-29 from distance, spacing the floor beautifully.
"All of them are able to pass, dribble and shoot, they make you defend for 35 seconds," Sendek said. "If you don't talk on a dribble hand off, they make you pay."
The majority of Hartford's offensive scoring came from Nate Sikma, who dropped 26 points and nailed six long balls. Sikma's previous season best was eleven points, surpassing his overall points per game average by 21 points.
"He played a great game, he got going right out of the gates," Sendek said of Sikma. "He did a great job of taking advantage of the match-ups, coming off flares and knocking down three's."
The Sun Devils went 11-for-23 at the charity stripe, presenting themselves with unnecessary and daunting obstacles. Carson will be remembered for his flashy coast-to-coast clinics and no look dimes, but there is no excuse for going 1-for-5 at the line.
Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week Carrick Felix accumulated a double-double for the second consecutive contest. Felix sported 11 points and 11 rebounds, but his positive contributions went beyond the box score.
"It's hard to think of anybody right now who every possession offensively and defensively is giving the energy and effort that Carrick is," Sendek said. "He is easy to cheer for, he is literally playing every facet of the game for us."
One lingering question surrounding ASU basketball are their consistent lackadaisical starts. At 7-1 overall, the Devils must remain level headed and compete hard at tip off.
"These last couple games I think we got a little comfortable, we had a little bit of an ego," Carson said. "Now, I think we are letting off the gas and just being content."
Speaking of getting better, turnover-wise ASU coughed the rock up a mere 10 times. In the past two contests, Carson and company made 19 miscues. However, against Arkansas Pine-Bluff alone Sendek's team gave the ball away 18 times.
Looking ahead, the next ASU basketball games falls on Saturday December 8th against Cal State Northridge at noon.