Kodi Justice ran down the floor in transition and nailed a three-pointer, did the same same during the ensuing offensive possession and made it three in a row just under two minutes later.
The sequence reflected the final weapon of Arizona State’s (3-0) offense finally warming up and continued a monstrous first half run that would eventually lead to a 97-62 victory over Northern Arizona for the Sun Devils.
After failing to reach double digits so far this season and starting the campaign jsut one of nine from the three point line, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley was glad to see his senior playmaker step against NAU.
“I consider him to be our best three point shooting threat,” Hurley said following the guard’s 14 point performance. “That’s just a part of what he does, but he does it very well. He hasn’t started the season very well, but it was nice to see him see the ball go through the net a couple times.”
Justice was beginning to heat up as freshman forward Romello White stayed in the flames, managing 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting against the lowly Lumberjacks.
After redshirting all of last season, White exploded on to the scene in Tempe and has emerged as one of the primary weapons on both sides of the ball for the Sun Devils thus far. He was asked if he was surprised at all regarding how quickly he has dominated.
“Honestly, yeah,” White said. “I felt like I was going to be a bit worse when I got back. I surprised myself, so I’m just going to keep going.”
Both White and junior forward DeQuon Lake dominated for Arizona State down low — again — but the Sun Devils’ guards were also a key factor in the offensive explosion.
Senior guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II combined for 14 assists on the night, as ASU managed assists on just over 40 percent of their field goals.
Evans mentioned after the game that a lot of it had to do with the Sun Devils bevy of scoring options on the court, something they haven’t had in recent years.
“Having a post presence, teams gotta respect that now,” Evans said. “Now that they gotta look at Mello, scout D-Lake and Vitaliy and try to stop those guys. If you try and stop them we got Tra and Kodi too... I don’t think anybody can stop all of it, it might be impossible.”
The versatility of the ASU offense was on full display against Northern Arizona. Five different Arizona State players had double digit points while the team as a whole shot just over 52 percent from the field.
When the Lumberjacks focused on defending the perimeter, the Sun Devils guards fed the ball down low. When NAU backed down the lane and tried to protect the rim, ASU elected to let its backcourt make plays in open space.
When the Jacks tried to force Arizona State to utilize its least-effective established weapon so far, Kodi Justice nailed three shots behind the arc and solidified the fact that the final piece of the puzzle for Hurley’s program has come into form, and that the Sun Devils are firing on all cylinders ahead of one of their toughest stretches of the season.