The Sun Devils were all smiles after their win against Detroit. - USA TODAY Sports
Jahii Carson set the Arizona State freshman record for 20-point games in a season as his 22 points helped carry the Sun Devils to an 83-68 victory over Detroit on Wednesday night.
If the Sun Devils harbored feelings of disappointment about missing the NCAA tournament, they sure didn't show those feelings on Wednesday night.
Arizona State used a 20-4 run just minutes into the game to race away from the Detroit Titans and secure an 83-68 victory in the first round of the NIT.
The Titans missed their first 10 field goal attempts of the game, and the tight Sun Devil defense helped force early miscues.
"They have a very experienced team and I just thought our guys prepared well, played well," coach Herb Sendek said.
The freshman scored 12 points including back-to-back driving layups with five minutes remaining in the half to extend the Sun Devils' lead past 20 points for the first time.
The dynamic duo helped the Sun Devils' shoot 58.3 percent in the first half, but the team's most lopsided stat came on the boards.
The Sun Devils enjoyed a 27-6 advantage on the glass and limited the Titans to just six made field goals over the first 20 minutes.
"We're physical. I don't think they're used to the physicality of the Pac-12 and we brought that to them," Carson said.
By the halftime break, Arizona State felt extremely confident about moving onto the second round of the NIT against the No. 2 seed Baylor Bears.
Despite the 19-point lead, the Sun Devils still had their work cut out for them in the second half. Detroit averages 78.1 points per game and Arizona State has had trouble holding leads all season.
Holding onto the win became tougher when Titans' forward Doug Anderson helped cut the lead to nine points by scoring six straight points in the first three minutes of the second half.
With the Titans closing in, Carson reeled off two straight buckets before Carrick Felix ignited the crowd with his second dunk of the night in transition to give Arizona State a 13-point lead.
"Jahii's the quickest point guard in the nation. We have great athletic wings and even our bigs can run the floor," Felix said.
After the early second half charge from the Titans, the Sun Devils regained control by letting Carson take charge.
The point guard finished with 22 points, which sets the Arizona State record for most 20-point games by a freshman. His 17th 20-point game passes James Harden who finished with 16 such games in 2007-2008.
Carson's points weren't the only story on Wednesday as he recorded a double-double by setting a career high with 10 rebounds and notching six assists as well.
"He just has improved so much and in so many facets of the game. As good as he's been, he just keeps getting better," Sendek said.
With the win, Carson and the Sun Devils move on to second round action and will travel to Waco, Texas to faceoff against Baylor on Friday night. Though Arizona State will be on the road, a victory would bring the maroon and gold back to Tempe to host a quarterfinal matchup next week.