TEMPE, Ariz. — Taylor Swift isn’t the only one who knows how to ring in a 22nd birthday.
Arizona State guard Gerry Blakes used the occasion to score 22 points and help lead his Sun Devils to a victory.
In the second game of the Bobby Hurley Era in the desert, the Sun Devils got their first win, defeating the Belmont Bruins 83-74 with hot shooting from beyond the arc in front of 4,459 at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I feel like because I’ve won a number of games before, I don’t feel like it’s the first time,” Hurley, the two-time NCAA champ and owner of a 42-20 record at Buffalo, said. “But certainly here, it’s special and with this group.”
ASU had ten made three-pointers in the contest, including 6-of-8 in the second half. They shot 48 percent from behind the arc on the night.
Belmont jumped out to an early 10-6 lead in the first five minutes with guard Austin Luke accounting for five of those points. The Sun Devils came firing back to take the lead on an and-1 by Andre Spight with 13:55 left in the first half.
The Sun Devils had a 10-point lead with a little over two minutes before the break but didn’t score again for a 36-32 lead at halftime. Blakes was the Sun Devil’s leading scorer with nine and Kodi Justice added five points off the bench in the half.
Belmont star guard Craig Bradshaw was held to just five points, all from the line, in the first half but started off the second with a big three-pointer and led an 12-4 run for the Bruins in the first five minutes of the second.
A Sun Devil comeback followed behind hot shooting from three for Spight (back-to-back-to-back at one point) to lead the Devils to a 57-53 lead with 11:13 left in the game. The Bruins stayed in this one, cutting the lead to three with 3:37 remaining, but Blakes and Justice helped ASU finish strong.
Spight finished with 15 points, was 4-of-7 from three-point range and dished out six assists. Savon Goodman contributed a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“With a new team and new coach everyone has to get acclimated,” Blakes said. “We ended up tightening up the screws and were the team we wanted to be tonight.”
ASU is now 2-0 all-time over Belmont. They defeated the Bruins 92-44 back in December of 2000.
– Five of Goodman’s 12 rebounds came on the offensive end.
– Justice was a spark plug off the bench, shooting 50 percent from three and hitting all four of his free throws.
– ASU outrebounded Belmont 45-31 and turned 13 offensive boards into 14 second-chance points.
– ASU had 11 turnovers in the first half. A bright spot was Belmont was only able to turn those into eight points. The Sun Devils finished with 22 turnovers for the game.
– Eric Jacobsen was held to four points and Tra Holder struggled, hitting just 1-of-4 from the field and had one assist in 15 minutes of playing time. Holder was limited due to foul trouble.
– Goodman’s double-double was the sixth of his ASU career, which has now spanned 27 games.
– ASU great and 1964 Olympic Gold medalist “Jumpin’ Joe” Caldwell attended Monday night’s game and was honored during a first half timeout.
– Monday night was the first night of the Legends Classic. ASU is a host school for the regionals along with North Carolina State, LSU and Marquette. The championship round will be next week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
– In the closing minute, Bradshaw leapt to save a ball and toppled over the scoring table. He remained on the ground next to the first row for over a minute, but walked back to the bench on his own power.
– The 942 Crew held “Belmont Stakes Night” Monday. The student section wore jockey-themed argyle t-shirts.
He Said It
“The first day after the loss to Sac State was probably one of my hardest practices as a basketball player. But I feel like that’s what great teams do and it prepared us to get ready and respond the way that we did.” — Senior guard Gerry Blakes
Belmont, along with six other schools on ASU’s non-conference schedule, are slated to make the tournament this year by ESPN’s Bracketology. They play 10 non-conference games against teams in the top 155 of last year’s Ratings Percentage Index. The upcoming opponent for ASU is — well, not one of those schools.
The Sun Devils face Kennesaw State at home on Wednesday. The Owls are 0-2 on the season with a loss against Alabama on Friday and lost Monday, 91-69, to LSU. Last season, they had an overall record of 10-22, 4-10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Owls lost 90-54 in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament to the USC Upstate Spartans.
Wednesday’s game tips off at 6:30 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.