TEMPE — Senior Carrick Felix scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while freshman Jahii Carson contributed 21 points and five assists as Arizona State held off a late run by Washington State in a 69-57 win at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Sun Devils led by as many as 21 points in the second half, but Washington State (11-16, 2-12) crept to within eight points with under three minutes to play.
Arizona State, the worst free throw shooting team in the Pac-12, uncharacteristically iced the game at the line, hitting their final nine attempts at the stripe for their 20th win. It’s the first time the Sun Devils have won 20 since the 2009-10 season and it’s the fourth time head coach Herb Sendek has hit the milestone in his seven-year tenure in Tempe.
Arizona State was unselfish with the basketball, registering 18 assists on their 23 field goals. Five players had more than three assists in the game, led by Carson’s five.
Junior center Jordan Bachynski stepped up his play in the second half, scoring nine of his 12 points after halftime. The Canadian native also had seven rebounds and five blocks to become just the third player in ASU history to have 100 or more blocks in a single season joining Mario Bennett (115 in 1994-95) and Rodger Farrington (113 in 1996-97).
Felix’s defense on Washington State big man Brock Motum was stellar once again. Motum scored his season average of 17 points, but needed 19 field goal attempts to get there. The Australian senior fouled out with :52 remaining in the game.
For the first time in a long time, you can throw ASU’s free throw shooting in this category. The Devils connected on 15-of-18 from the line (83.3 percent).
ASU didn’t take great care of the basketball, turning it over 15 times on the night — their second-highest total in Pac-12 competition this season. Washington State capitalized on the miscues, turning them into 15 points in the game.
He Said It:
“It’s about time I got one here.” — ASU guard Jahii Carson on his second collegiate dunk but first at Wells Fargo Arena — a two-handed flush that ignited an 14-3 run which gave the Sun Devils a 36-22 halftime lead.
• The ASU student section, on “James Harden Beard Night” stayed silent until the Sun Devils scored 13 points, in honor of the former All-American’s uniform number. The crowd erupted when Felix hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 14 apiece.
The problem with the plan is that nobody informed the coach or the players, who were a little weirded out by how quiet it was for the first ten minutes of the game.
“It’s dead in here,” Sendek said after the game. “And I only find out after the game because nobody tells me anything — that the students had this pact that they weren’t gonna erupt until we scored 13 points in honor of James.”
• Meanwhile, in Houston, Harden pumped in a career-high 46 points in the Rockets’ 122-117 win over Oklahoma City.
• Felix notched his 11th double-double of the season, which ties him for the league-lead with Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye.
• ASU also filmed a “Harlem Shake” video after the game that featured cheerleaders, band members, fans and Jordan Bachynski, who said afterward the video shoot “went well.”
ASU will host its Senior Night Saturday against the Washington Huskies. Carrick Felix, Chris Colvin, Ruslan Pateev and Joey Hormes will be honored before the game, which tips off at 9:00 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.