TEMPE, Ariz. — Shaquielle McKissic took a rough road to Arizona State.
On Saturday, in the Sun Devils’ 97-55 rout of Grambling State, he gave a hint of the kind of talent he can bring.
McKissic scored a season-high 19 points, including 3 of 3 3-pointers, in just 19 minutes on the court. Overall, he made six of eight shots.
“He has an unassuming heart, a grateful heart,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “He knows he has to jam pack a whole career into one year. When you only have one year and you’ve traveled the path he has to get here, every day is important to him. Every game is the Super Bowl. Every practice matters. He’s always in the gym on his own.”
Jordan Bachynski had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Sun Devils (9-2). Jermaine Marshall added 16 points and Jahii Carson 14 as Sendek emptied his bench for much of the second half.
A’Torri Shine scored 16, Antwan Scott 15 and Redmond Brown 10 for the Tigers, who shot 31 percent to Arizona State’s 64 percent.
Grambling (0-4) was playing for the first time in 24 days. The Tigers’ closest game so far was a 30-point loss to Missouri State.
McKissic transferred from Edmonds, Wash., Community College and has just this season of eligibility. He was out of basketball for two years while serving community service for a teen-age arrest for burglary and dealing with other personal issues. He has had to earn his playing time since arriving at Arizona State.
“Coming off the bench is not something I’m accustomed to,” McKissic said. “I talked to the coaches and there was no bitterness or envy or anything like that. I know hard work conquers all. They told me what I did wrong and what I need to improve on and I basically just went in and got after it, just stayed in the gym before practice, after practice, just did a lot more listening than acting.”
McKissic is a versatile 6-foot-5 forward.
“The one thing that we’ve asked him to do is to take full advantage of his elite athleticism,” Sendek said. “So all the ways that athleticism can manifest itself in basketball performance, that’s where we’ve really focused him. Things like offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, being able to really be a defensive stopper who can guard multiple positions, getting out on transition.”
Arizona State scored the final 18 points of the first half to lead 52-28 at the break.
The Tigers stayed with the Sun Devils for a bit. It was tied at 20-20 after Chandler Thomas’ basket with 11:47 left in the half. The Sun Devils outscored Grambling 32-8 from there until halftime.
Marshall scored 14, including 3 of 4 3-pointers, and Carson 13 in the first 20 minutes. Bachynski had nine points and 14 rebounds in the first half. Shine had 11 first-half points.
Grambling State has yet to play a home game. The Tigers have lost to DePaul by 38, Marquette by 43 and Missouri State by 30 and now Arizona State by 42.
The Sun Devils, coming off a 78-56 win at DePaul, played the first of three-straight nonconference home games leading into the Pac-12 season. They don’t play for another week, hosting Texas Tech next Saturday, then a week later, are home against Cal-Irvine.
Grambling State finally gets to play a home game Monday night, against Central Baptist.
The 42-point win matched the second-most one-sided victory in Sendek’s eight seasons at Arizona State.
Sendek says he expects guard Brandan Kearney, a transfer from Michigan State, to be eligible to play in the Devils’ next game.