By Jordan Parry, ASU Media Relations Intern
The first two games of the season for the Sun Devils included fast break play, some highflying bodies, but most importantly, a lot of baskets. The Sun Devils of Tuesday night, however, were unable to match the same style of play as a more fundamentally sound team in Cornell was in town. ASU refused to let that hinder them, though, as they escaped Wells Fargo Arena with a 64-53 victory over Big Red and a 3-0 record.
"I think it's been a great start for us--good momentum. I think we've gotten out of the gates exactly the way we wanted to," Coach Sendek said.
It did not take ASU long to realize they would have to make some adjustments, which came in the form of three-pointers. As Cornell packed the paint and tightened their defense, the Sun Devils were forced to unleash a plethora of three-pointers, many of which being open looks.
"They're a good defensive team," Coach Sendek said. "They did a good job of packing it in."
What started promising with a Jonathan Gilling three from the top of the key to kick-start the Devil scoring failed to materialize into anything more. In a half where even the easier lay-ins rolled out, the extra shooting distance hardly helped their cause.
ASU shot 18 three-pointers in the first half, making only three, including a buzzer-beater from Jahii Carson just before the half. In the first two games of the season the Sun Devils shot a total of 40 shots from beyond the arc. ASU shot just 28 percent in the first half to Cornell's 35 percent, but still only trailed at halftime 25-22. They ended the game with 27 three-point attempts.
"I thought we were really quick to settle. There were too many possessions where we took shots on one or two passes, sometimes no passes," said Coach Sendek.
Evan Gordon launched another three-pointer to start the half for the Sun Devils, but the second half tempo soon changed. On the following defensive possession Carrick Felix forced a steal and went coast-to-coast for a lay-in, right before Gordon forced a steal of his own, which ended with another Felix layup. Jordan Bachysnki, a non-factor in the first half, then made a powerful block on the defensive end before hustling back to his spot on offense where his teammates found him, which enabled him to throw down a forceful dunk, forcing Cornell to use a timeout to stop the run that saw ASU gain a three point advantage.
At this time, it was clear the Sun Devils came out of the locker room with newfound energy and a desire to make plays. They treated the crowd to a flurry of high-pressure defensive stops and relentless slashes to the basket, making a conscious effort to get the 7'2" Bachynski more involved.
Bachynski succeeded. He concluded the game with 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
Oh, and another welcoming sight began in the second half--the Sun Devils started hitting their three-ball attempts. After the Gordon miss they then connected on 5-7 from downtown, gaining and extending the lead up to 51-42.
ASU started making shots, but they also keyed up the intensity on defense, forcing turnover after turnover from the Big Red, resulting in points on the other end. The Sun Devils scored 18 points off of Cornell's 23 turnovers. The 23 turnovers are the fourth-most forced turnovers all-time by an ASU team under Coach Sendek.
After controlling most of the second half, Carson essentially put an end to the game with a pull-up jumper from the right elbow before sinking two free throws to put the Sun Devils ahead by 13 with 1:27 left. Carson finished the game as the team leader in points with 21, while also racking up four assists and going 11-14 from the free throw line.
Felix had a career-high four steals.
Next up, Arizona State travels to Las Vegas for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, where they are set to play Arkansas at 4:00 p.m. (PT) on Nov. 23.