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ASU Basketball: Big second half allows Devils to pull past Stanford

The backcourt was big

ASU sophomore guard Remy Martin (1) celebrates after making a three-point basket in the first half of the Sun Devils’ 80-62 win over Stanford on Wednesday Feb. 20, 2018 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona.
Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

Remy Martin sped forward with a full head of steam. He bolted past half court, past the three-point line, hit the free throw line in stride, then dropped down the play of the night.

It was a between the legs bounce pass to hit senior forward De’Quon Lake in motion. Lake received the bounce pass and threw it down for a one-handed jam to put the ultimate finishing touch on an Arizona State (18-8, 9-5) 80-62 win over Stanford (14-12, 7-7).

“That was a spectacular play and it was a fitting end to everything,” head coach Bobby Hurley said.

Martin’s dazzling bounce pass wasn’t his only masterful play either. He dropped that same exact pass down to sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence in the first half. A possession later, he then took a heat check three from in between the logo and the three-point line. The shot hit nothing but net.

It was just that kind of night for the sophomore point guard, who finished with 16 points. All three plays electrified the Sun Devil crowd and it put a buzz into the building. The first between the legs assist and the deep three both played a big part in allowing the Sun Devils to pull away.

The end of the first half plays allowed some breathing room to set the stage for a big second half.

“I think that three was a big momentum swing,” Martin said. “We were the aggressors. We were the people who punched first and kept it going throughout. It wasn’t just that three, though. That three was just a little part of what we were talking about, which was being energized and making the right play. That’s what we did today.”

Along with Martin, his running mate in the backcourt had a big impact. Junior guard Rob Edwards also finished with 16 points. Edwards has had his outings where he has been spectacular, and then there has been nights where he has fallen upon struggles shooting from the floor.

Wednesday was one of those spectacular nights. Edwards finished shooting 6-8 from the floor in an efficient performance, and he followed up after scoring 28 points last Saturday against Utah.

“It feels good,” said Edwards of his recent shooting performances. “It’s just trying to get ready for March and tournament time, trying to pick it up and help everybody else so that we can get ready to win games because we know that’s what we got to do.”

All around, it was a good team performance. Freshmen Taeshon Cherry and Luguentz Dort both had 11 points and everyone made a contribution. Cherry’s presence could have been felt even more if it were not for two flagrant fouls that he acquired during Wednesday’s game. The resulting fouls led to an ejection and a game that was cut short.

Cherry received his first flagrant after an altercation on a loose ball, and his second was after a missed three-point shot where he took down one of Stanford’s players while he was on the ground.

For a passionate freshman with lots of emotion, Cherry’s flagrant’s seemed to be part of a learning curve in his first college season. Hurley and fans alike love Cherry's emotion. It’s a great asset to his play, however, Hurley noted it can sometimes need to be controlled. He even compared Cherry to Hurley at Duke.

“Taeshon was kind of like me as a freshman. He’s got so much spirit and emotion and raw energy,” Hurley said. “You got to try to harness it and control it. I (Hurley) was bad with officials. I was bad if I made a mistake with body language and those types of things. He’ll learn and he’ll mature, but he’s a super talented guy and we will work with him so he puts this behind him.”

Other than the ejection, ASU used a big second half to pull away. After dealing with early foul trouble, the Devils tightened up and were able to pull away late.

Stanford was without its sophomore phenom KZ Okpala on Wednesday. Beating the Cardinal on ASU’s home floor without their best player isn’t exactly the most impressive win, but it’s a win nonetheless. For ASU in a crucial stretch of games, that’s all that matters.

For the first time all season, Hurley strolled along the sideline wearing an all-black shirt. It wasn’t symbolic or have any special meaning, but it might have left a little charm for the Devils. Hurley even made a joke out of it.

“This is my gangster shirt and the guys played like gangsters out there,” said Hurley with a smile. “They played hard and they took control of the game, and they really battled. They fought.”