Over the first 11 games of the season, Herb Sendek struggled to find a consistent and successful rotation. With so many new faces, Sendek experiment with different lineups in different situations. The results were mixed, as the Sun Devils came into their game against Detroit just 6-5 on the season.
On Tuesday afternoon, ASU may have found a keeper, as they dominated Detroit to the tune of a 93-54 victory, their largest margin of victory on the season.
Arizona State used their third different starting lineup of the year against the Titans. Gerry Blakes moved over the point, with Roosevelt Scott and Savon Goodman making their first career starts, along with McKissic and Jacobsen. The starting unit combined for 67 points despite not seeing much of final 10 minutes.
"Our coaches and our players were really hurt after Saturday's game." said Sendek. "I was really proud of the way that we started the game and set the tone early and came away with victory today. It was a great bounce-back (win) based on where we were mentally Saturday night."
Led by Goodman, the Sun Devils started out fast. Playing in just his third game, Goodman scored 12 of his team's first 22 points and helped ASU jump out to a 22-8 lead with 12:20 left in the first half. For the second straight game, the sophomore forward led ASU with 22 points.
"It is just fun to be back out there," said Goodman. "I am happy to be back out on the floor and I am happy to be with a group that I love. I can honestly look these guys in the face and tell them that I love them."
Because of the early success, Sendek did not substitute until over five minutes into the game. In previous games, he would have a quick hook on some players, subbing two or three minutes into games.
"That group was playing well, so I didn't want to mess with success," said Sendek. "What we did to start the game with that group was we had high energy. We had good defense that led to transition baskets."
Arizona State led wire-to-wire and scored a season-high 50 points at halftime. Adding Scott and Goodman to the starting lineup provided defensive prowess and great energy to a team that desperately needed it.
"All of us as a team wanted to get back out here and redeem ourselves after last game's loss," said guard Gerry Blakes. "Our practices were high energy and we were looking forward to today so we could redeem ourselves."
Blakes saw extended minutes at point guard for the first time this season, after spending most of the season off the ball. He scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and only turned the ball over twice in 21 minutes.
"I'm pretty comfortable," said Blakes about playing point guard. "I definitely think I have a lot to learn as a player. I want to be able to do different things at that position, but I think I did fairly well."
Seven Sun Devils scored off the bench and ASU shot 57 percent from the field as a team. However, it was defense that was preached after Saturday's loss to Lehigh. As a result, Detroit turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 27 points for the Sun Devils. ASU outrebounded the Titans 43-34 and scored 13 second chance points.
"That was our big thing, starting the game out with energy," said Goodman. "Me, Gerry, Roosevelt, Shaq and Eric were texting last night about getting five stops in a row (to start the game). Getting stops, rebounding the ball and getting out in transition. That is what helped us get out to that early lead."
It was another big game for Goodman, in his last two games, he has scored 46 points and grabbed 23 rebounds. Perhaps more impressively is the fact that Goodman is 17-23 from the field.
"I just want to go out there and play as hard as possible and whatever turns up, so be it," said Goodman.
The Sun Devils head Detroit's leading scorer, Jawan Howard Jr. to just 9 points on 4-17 shooting. Former Sun Devil Brandon Kearney led the Titans with 15 points and 5-8 shooting.
Eric Jacobsen and Roosevelt Scott each scored nine points for the Sun Devils and McKissic added 14 points on 6-8 shooting.
With the victory in hand and the holidays approaching, the mood after the game was understandably joyful, but not content. The Sun Devils still have five losses on the season and the Pac-12 season approaches. Arizona State finishes their 2014 non-conference slate on Sunday at home against Harvard.
"We are not really complacent with this win, being that we have some tough losses," said Blakes. "We expect more from ourselves. I feel like the mood is more hungry than happy."