TEMPE, Ariz. — Kodi Justice once made 10 3-pointers in a high school game. The way he shot from long-range on Saturday, he might duplicate that performance any day for Arizona State.
The sophomore from nearby Mesa made 6 of 8 3-point attempts and scored a career-high 20 points in the Sun Devils’98-79 rout of Houston Baptist.
“I kind of got in a rhythm right there,” Justice said. “They were in a zone and they just kept packing it in, so I was just going to let it go. I hit a few and I got rolling, so I was going to keep letting it go.”
Coach Bobby Hurley said Justice gives the team a much-needed shooting threat.
“He’s been doing this here on a pretty regular basis,” Hurley said. “You could see him gaining a lot of confidence. He gives us that weapon behind the 3-point line and he’s really more than that. His defense is better, he’s a clever passer.”
Tra Holder scored 17 points, Eric Jacobsen had 16, Obinna Oleka 14 and Willie Atwood added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State (8-3) led by as many as 17 in the first half and 31 in the second.
The Sun Devils were coming off a tough stretch of four games, in which they won three, including road victories at Creighton and, Wednesday night, at UNLV. So facing an outmatched foe in a mostly-empty arena in the early afternoon had its challenges.
“It’s really hard,” Hurley said, “and being a former player you understand. You’re playing in some emotional games with great crowds and a lot on the line, and then, to drop into a game like this a couple of games removed, it’s not easy.”
Anthony Odunsi scored 16 points and Asa Cantwell had 13 for the Huskies (4-7).
The Sun Devils were without starting forward Savon Goodman for the second game in a row. Goodman, the team’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, is out for “personal reasons” according to the school.
Arizona State took the lead for good early with an 8-1 spurt that put them up 20-13. A 14-2 Sun Devils run gave them a 38-22 lead with 5:17 to go. Jacobsen scored five in the spurt. Holder’s 3-pointer gave Arizona State its biggest lead of the half, 45-28, with 2:46 left.
The Sun Devils led 49-33 at the break.
They poured it on from there. Justice sank three 3s and Holder one in an 18-3 run that put the Sun Devils ahead 73-43 with 13:18 to play. The Huskers were able to chip away a bit of that lead in the final minutes.
“I couldn’t be happier for like 32 minutes with how the team played and competed at both ends,” Hurley said. “We talked (in the locker room afterward) about how you’re supposed to finish the game.”
Houston Baptist: The Huskies are off for 10 days for the holiday break. … Coach Ron Cottrell has the eighth-longest tenure of any NCAA Division I coach at 25 years. … Houston Baptist was coming off a win at Cal-Irvine. … Huskies’ guard-forward Terry Harris, who didn’t play, is the brother of the Orlando Magic’s Tobias Harris and backup center Isaiah Robinson is the son of longtime NBA player Cliff Robinson.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were 7 for 14 on 3s in the second half to finish 12 of 26. … The 49 first-half points were Arizona State’s most since it got 50 against Detroit on Dec. 23, 2014. … Sun Devils are 5-0 at home since their season-opening loss to Sacramento State. … Arizona State has won five of its last six, with its lone loss at Kentucky.
Houston Baptist hosts Ecclesia on Dec. 29.
Arizona State hosts Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday night.