Men's basketball improves to 5-1 with a 67-54 victory over Arkansas

It may not have been pretty, but that is why "pretty" isn't in the win-loss column.

After a slow first half where ASU clearly struggled to get their offense on track, the Sun Devils bounced back in a dominant way in the second half, going on to beat the Golden Lions of Arkansas-Pine Bluff 67-54, Dec. 28, from Wells Fargo Arena.

The first half got off to quite the slow start, as the two teams combined to shoot 3-16 before the first media timeout, which came with 15:36 to play. The Sun Devils shot 0-5 to start the game, four of those misses coming off three-point attempts, before freshman sensationJahii Carson found a cutting Carrick Felix down the middle of the lane for an easy lay-in. Carson then found Felix again on the next possession for an elbow three-pointer in transition, which gave the Sun Devils a 5-2 lead. They held the lead for almost the entire first half.

The Golden Eagles tied the game at 23 with just over three minutes to play before the break and took a 25-23 lead a minute later, but two free throw makes apiece by bothJordan Bachynski and Eric Jacobsen closed the half and gave the Sun Devils a 27-25 lead heading into the locker room. The Sun Devils led by a high of 11 points in the first half, and shot 12 free throws (made 10) to Arkansas-Pine Bluff's two.

Carson finished the half with five assists, while Felix was halfway to his career high 24 points, boosted by two made three-pointers. ASU shot 7-23 (30 percent) from the field, while Arkansas Pine-Bluff shot 10-31 (32 percent).

Unlike the first half, both teams came out of the gates hot and started making shots that rattled out in the first half. The Sun Devils once again made a conscious effort to get the big man, Bachynski, involved at the start of the half, which, once again, proved to be effective. It opened up open shots and lanes for Carson to drive into where he could make decisions with the basketball on whether to dish or shoot.

The teams swapped baskets, but the Golden Eagles led 37-35 at the first official timeout of the second half after Felix's block was ruled a goaltend. Soon after, though, Evan Gordonhit a corner three to help the Sun Devils regain the lead, forcing Arkansas-Pine Bluff to call a timeout.

The Sun Devils never trailed again.

After the timeout, ASU came back to the hot corner, as Jonathan Gilling hit another three from the exact spot as Gordon. Gilling then found a cutting Felix at the elbow a couple of possessions later, as the Sun Devils finally found new ways to attack the fundamentally sound zone defense of APB.

From there it was all Sun Devils.

Gilling, a three-point specialist, this time moved to the left corner and buried his second three in as many tries, extending the lead to nine. Carson once again found Felix the next time down the court for a lay-up and one, which Felix ensued to knock down. This stretched the lead to 51-39, giving ASU their biggest lead since early in the first half.

It did not stop there, though.

Gilling concluded the game with 13 points to go along with his seven rebounds. He made three three-pointers.

Carson, after missing his first three three-pointers, then got one to roll in after bouncing on the rim about four times to cap off a 17-0 Sun Devil run. At that point Arizona State was in cruise control.

Felix finished the game leading all scorers with 21 points going 8-12 from the floor, but also had six rebounds and four assists.

Bachynski ended with 10 points and another six blocks, which extends his season total to 32. Carson was limited to only nine points coming off his 30-point outing against Creighton, but made up for it with eight assists and five rebounds.

Lazabian Jackson of the Golden Eagles had 20 points on the night.

The Sun Devils rallied to shoot 45 percent from the field on 21-47 shooting. The Golden Lines finished at a dismal 30 percent from the field on 19-64 shooting. Arizona State shot 20 free throws to APB's 14.

ASU is now 2-0 all-time against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. In their only other meeting in 2009, ASU also took the matchup, 72-57, when former Sun Devils Eric Boetang had 17 points and Eric Glasser had a season high nine assists.

This game began a stretch of six straight home games for Arizona State. They next host 5-1 Sacramento State at Wells Fargo Arena for a 6:30 p.m. (MT) tip on Dec. 1.