TEMPE — Arizona State coach Herb Sendek preached that his team would push the ball up the floor in a style not recently seen by a Sun Devil basketball team.
Sunday, his squad didn’t disappoint. Freshman Jahii Carson led five Sun Devils in double figures with 20 points, and sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling had a career-high 15 rebounds as ASU beat up on Florida A&M 97-70 before a Sunday afternoon crowd of 3,107 at Wells Fargo Arena in an opening round game of the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational.
The Devils reeled off a 17-4 run to start the game, and then closed on a 40-18 run to put away the Rattlers.
The Good: The Sun Devils shot 59.3% from the field in the ball game and made 9-of-18 three-point shots.
ASU held Florida A&M (0-3) to just 33.3% shooting in the contest and forced 17 turnovers.
In addition to Carson, Chris Colvin (15 pts), Jordan Bachynski (14), Carrik Felix (13) and Gilling (13) scored in double figures.
Bachynski also blocked six shots, bringing his season total to 15 in just two games.
ASU hit 22-of-26 free throws in the ball game (84.6%).
The Bad: In between the rapid start and the furious ending, ASU suffered a lull against an overmatched opponent. Sandwiched between the runs, Florida A&M outscored ASU 48-40.
For much of the game, the Sun Devils had no answer for Jamie Adams, a 5-foot-10 junior guard from Chicago, who scored 24 points in just his third NCAA game. Adams transferred to FAMU from Colby Community College in Kansas.
When it was over: After FAMU’s Muhammad Abdul-Aleem hit a jumper to cut the Sun Devils’ lead to 73-64 with just under eight minutes to play, ASU embarked on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.
Noted: The 97 points were the third-most ever scored by an ASU squad coached by Sendek. ASU had 104 in a 2009 win over San Francisco and put up 99 in a double overtime win over Cal in 2008.
ASU had five players in double figures for the second consecutive game. That’s the first time that’s happened since December of 2008 when the Sun Devils accomplished the feat in consecutive non-conference wins over Central Connecticut State and Idaho State.
He said it: “He was much more aggressive, and we need that from him. Jon is a pretty big, strong kid, it’s something he can do. He’s no shrinking violet and we need him to do that. Especially with that being a real focus for our team — an area we really need to get better at.” — ASU head coach Herb Sendek on Jonathan Gilling’s career-high 15 boards.
What’s next: The Sun Devils will host the Cornell Big Red Tuesday night in Tempe as part of the Continental Tires Las Vegas Invitational. ASU will spend Thanksgiving in Nevada with games against Arkansas Friday and either Creighton or Wisconsin Saturday.