The Arizona State Sun Devils took part in their two most pivotal non-conference games of the season this past weekend at the Las Vegas Invitational. Sun Devils fans should be happy with what they saw from their team, as ASU went 1-1 in the tournament and hung with No. 14 Creighton until the final minutes.
ASU began the tournament with a surprising 83-68 victory over Arkansas. The Sun Devils outscored the Razorbacks by 13 in the second half, shooting 56% from the field and leading by as much as 18 points.
The Sun Devils suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Creighton Bluejays in the tournament's championship game. ASU trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, but cut the lead down to single digits by halftime and then down to six in the second half. However, Doug McDermott's 30 points were too much for the Sun Devils and ASU fell 87-73.
What We Learned
This Teams is Better Than Most Thought
Many, including myself, foresaw the Sun Devils team leaving Las Vegas 0-2. A double-digit victory over Arkansas as a pleasant surprise for most supporters. Then ASU hung with a ranked Creighton team for most of the game, until running out of gas in the game's final minutes.
Some believed that this team was worse than last year's team, in Las Vegas, the Sun Devils proved that not to be the case. The Sun Devils are averaging 79.3 points per game, good for 37th in the nation. Last year Arizona State averaged just 61 points per game. ASU is also averaging two more assists and three more rebounds per game than they did a year ago.
Jahii Carson is Better Than Advertised
Carson has exceeded almost everyones expectations for him thus far. Carson became the fourth Sun Devil freshman to put up 30 points in a game, with his 30 point performance against Creighton. He also had seven assists, four rebounds and four steals against the BlueJays.
Through five games Carson is averaging 21 points and five assists per game. Former Sun Devil star James Harden averaged 17.6 points and two assists per game in his first five games in Tempe. Carson has shown the ability to score in different ways and he is able to set up his teammates with easy shots.
This Team Lacks Depth
Carson played 38 minutes against Creighton and Carrick Felix played 36. Chris Colvin was the only player to see significant playing time off the bench, with 29 minutes. Ruslan Pateev, Bo Barnes and Kenny Martin have been non-factors for this team thus far and freshman guard Calen Robinson has been suspended indefinitely.
If the Sun Devils get in foul trouble, especially with their bigs, they are in trouble. Eric Jacobsen has been very inconsistent this season and Pateev has not seen the court much.
News and Notes
- Jahii Carson leads all freshman in scoring with 21 points per game.
- Jonathan Gilling ranks 4th in the Pac-12 with his 9.2 rebounds per game.
- Carson ranks 11th in the nation in free throws made with 37, he leads all freshman in that category.
- Dating back to last year, Chris Colvin is averaging 9.1 points and 4.8 assists in his last 20 games.
- ASU is back in action Wednesday night against Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Wells Fargo Arena. Tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.