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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils take care of business with 91-53 win over Kennesaw State

Arizona State won its second straight game on Wednesday, getting over .500 for the season with a win over the lowly Owls.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After two challenging games to open the Bobby Hurley era, the Arizona State Sun Devils got a brief reprieve against the Kennesaw State Fighting Owls (0-3) Wednesday night.

Dominating from start to finish, ASU (2-1) rolled to a 91-53 victory behind a 19-point performance from forward Obinna Oleka. Those 19 were the JC transfer's first points since 2013.

"I wanted to cry," said Oleka when asked about his performance in the first two games of the year. "I just kind of needed to get my feet wet."

While Oleka was definitely the star, a balanced attack all across the board got the team its second victory of the season. With a height advantage at nearly every position, the points were coming from a host of different spots on the floor.

Forward Eric Jacobsen added 15 points for Arizona State, while point guard Tra Holder controlled the backcourt with 14 of his own. Willie Atwood was the last player in double figures, scoring 10 and pulling down eight rebounds.

"It was a good all-around game from a lot of guys" Hurley said. "There was a lot of balance out there."

Holder got his team off to a fast start, scoring the game's first four points. Jacobsen and Atwood then had the next two buckets, and just like that the maroon and gold held an 8-0 lead.

"(Holder) was shifty with the ball in there," said Hurley. "That got us going offensively, which was really good to see."

Despite falling behind early, Kennesaw State (0-3) would eventually settle in. An emphasis on slowing the game down and crashing the boards helped the visitors back in, and a pull-up jumper from Nigel Pruitt got the deficit to just 33-24 with 1:20 left in the first half. Jacobsen answered on the other end with a pair of free throws to end the first frame, but an 11-point lead against this team didn't satisfy the coaching staff.

"We had a little stretch towards the end of the first half when we were not at our best," Hurley said.

Then, ASU broke out.

With increased energy on both ends of the floor, Arizona State went on a 7-0 binge in less than two minutes to go up 42-24. Owl head coach Al Skinner called a timeout to stop the bleeding, but there would be no coming back from the 18-point hole.

"Coach was emphasizing not keeping them in the game," said guard Gerry Blakes. "We tried to keep our foot on the pedal."

The lead was pushed out to 27 with five minutes remaining, then up to 40 in the final seconds. The only frightening moment in the second half came when Savon Goodman landed wrong on his ankle late in the game. The small forward didn't return, but Hurley said after the game that the injury was not a serious one.

Kennesaw State isn't as talented as Belmont, or even Sacramento State for that matter, but this was still a critical game for Hurley's team. The Sun Devils proved they can string back-to-back wins together, and now get to see how they play outside the friendly confines of Wells Fargo Arena.

"These are the games you want to be a part of," Hurley said, looking forward to next week's Legends Classic games in New York. "You want to go to Brooklyn and play in the Barclays Center. It's an opportunity for us early in the season to play for a championship, and we are excited."

The semifinals of that tournament begin on Monday, with the Sun Devils facing off against the North Carolina State Wolfpack.