Sun Devils move on to 2nd round of NIT
It might be the NIT, but the Sun Devils came to play as if they were a part of the NCAA Tournament.
Piggybacking off one of its best first half performances of the season, taking a 46-27 lead into the locker room, ASU never showed sign of weakness as it handled Detroit from start to finish, going on to bounce the Titans, 83-68.
The Sun Devils move on to the second round, where they will travel to Waco, Texas to face the Baylor Bears for a 5 p.m. (PT) tipoff, March 22.
Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix took over the heavy lifting for ASU, as Carson finished with 22 points to Felix's 21, despite getting in foul trouble midway through the second half. Carson, who shot 7-10 and 8-10 from the free throw line, also added 10 rebounds to notch a double-double. He missed a triple-double by three assists, as he had seven dimes on the night.
Felix also shot the ball well, finishing 8-13 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds.
As a team, Arizona State shot 55 percent on 27-49 shooting, compared to Detroit, who shot 34 percent on 20-58 shooting from the field. A big factor in the contest came on the boards, as ASU out-rebounded the Titans by 20, 41-21.
The Sun Devils got off to a monstrous start to begin the game, jumping out to an early 18-4 run thanks to early 7-10 shooting, while Detroit could not find a basket deep into the contest. They began the game shooting 0-6, and were forced to call a timeout with 13:17 to play, still searching for a basket.
Detroit's first six points came from the free throw line, two of which ended a Sun Devils' 14-0 scoring run.
By the time the Titans hit their first shot, with 10:14 to play in the half, ASU held a commanding 24-8 lead. Detroit officially began the game shooting 0-10 before getting its first basket to fall through. During that span, the Devils out-rebounded the Titans 17-2, including seven offensive rebounds to their one, to go along with an 11-0 second-chance points advantage.
At the official timeout with 7:52 to play, Arizona State still assumed a large 20-point lead, 30-10, showing no signs of slowing down its up-tempo pace.
Detroit welcomed the halftime buzzer, down 46-27, feeling fortunate the deficit was not any greater. Felix and Carson tormented the Titans throughout the half, finishing a combined 9-12 from the field. Felix completed the first 20 minutes of play with 15 points on 5-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds, while also connecting on 5-6 of his free throws. Carson also finished the half in double figures, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting. The point guard also led the team in rebounding at the break, notching seven.
While ASU shot a quality 58.3 percent on 14-24 shooting over the first half of play, Detroit's shooting percentage proved to be anything but. They finished at a dismal 22.2 percent on 6-27 shooting. The Titans survived by going 15-15 from the charity stripe, but the Sun Devils equalized by going 16-20 themselves.
Arizona State out-rebounded Detroit 27-6 in the first half.
Coming out of the locker room, however, the Sun Devils struggled to find the same hop to their step they had throughout the first half, allowing Detroit to move to within ten points with 16:59 to play thanks to a Nick Minnerath three-pointer.
With 14:11 to play, the Titans cut the lead to single digits for the first time since early in the first half, with the score 51-42. However, back-to-back buckets by Carson re-extended the lead to 13, as the two squads began trading baskets.
Finally able to put a string of points together, the Sun Devils put up six-straight of their own, regaining a 17-point advantage, 65-48, with 8:02 to play.
After a beautiful bounce pass from Carson through multiple defenders to Felix, who laid it up and under for two, ASU led by 17 with 3:46 to play, signaling to the crowd it would be all right for them to head to their vehicles.
With another victory, Arizona State tacked up its 22nd victory on the season, improving to 22-12.