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ASU Basketball: Devils Narrowly Defeat Their First Cat of the Week in the Princeton Tigers!
By Peter Bouloukos, DieHardDevil.com
November 27, 2019 9:53 PM

Sun Devil Hoops

November 26, 2019 – Arizona State trailed at halftime 31-26 on Tuesday night in Jadwin Gym. It’s the fourth time this campaign the Sun Devils could not consistently tickle the twine in the first half. 

Without a proven secondary scorer behind Guard Remy Martin, Coach Bobby Hurley is going to have to find offensive balance somewhere.

 

Khalid Thomas

Enter 6’9” 210-pound Junior College Transfer Khalid Thomas who possesses a fundamentally sound long-range jumper but also thrives in the paint with a soft touch.  I think of Thomas as I do Robert Frank’s, last year’s leading scorer in the Pac-12 and now on a two-way contract with the Charlotte Hornets. Thus far, Khalid for some reason just has not garnered much of any playing time on a competitive Sun Devil Bench.  

Against Princeton, Remy Martin filled the bucket scoring a career-high 33-points to lead Arizona State. As we have mentioned a few times, Remy seems resigned to let his teammates make plays in the first half rather than set the tempo and pace.  This is a two-headed monster in that Jaelen House needs minutes but is fast becoming a volume shooter as is Alonzo Verge Jr. This puts Martin on the wing and Arizona State playing from behind. 

The Princeton game was Remy’s fourth 20-plus point performance of the season. He scored 23 points in the second half as the Sun Devils outscored the Tigers 41-34. Bobby Hurley played Martin the entire game (40 minutes) which suggests there are unresolved issues at Point-Guard in this version of Guard U.  

 

Martin connected on 13 of 23 shots with 3 assists, 2 steals, 4-7 from the free-throw line, and 3-6 from Witherspoon Street. Analytically, Remy’s “Effective Field Goal Percentage” was 63-percent which honors his athleticism, strength, and conditioning for 40 minutes! #gritty #gutty

With 15 seconds remaining in the game Bobby Hurley called a timeout. The ball was inbounded to Remy “Share the Sugar” Martin who spun into the lane through a double-team. Inside of 12 feet but with Tigers collapsing around him, Martin dished to a wide-open Khalid Thomas who stroked a perfect jumper from 22’ 6” for a game-winning 3-point shot with 3.2 seconds on the clock.   

“After the Virginia game (48-45 loss on Sunday), I just wanted to get a win for us,” Remy Martin said. “I had to pick it up in the second half, but I had help from my teammates. I trusted Khalid with all my might, and he hit it.”

In our Pac-12 Conference Preview, we suggested Khalid Thomas was going to be an important inside-out asset for this Sun Devil squad. Tuesday night he was 2-2 from the field and 3-4 from beyond the arc. Along with his 14 points in 24 minutes, Khalid added 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and another steal to his resume.

In a game where Romello White and Jalen Graham were expected to be a strong interior presence, they got out-played and out-hustled. Princeton effectively pounded the ball inside for scores when they needed it.

 

Captain & Chef Remy Martin

 

6’9” 230-pound Senior Center, Richmond Aririguzoh led Princeton (0-5) with 16 points and 18 rebounds. The Tigers held a 35-28 rebound advantage over the Sun Devils in the contest. This could spell trouble when ASU starts playing foes in the Conference of Champions.  

The ASU VICTORY was a homecoming of sorts for Coach Hurley.  Bobby Jr. was a New Jersey Prep Star at perennial national power St. Anthony (Jersey City), coached by his father, Bob Hurley Sr.  St. Anthony’s Hall of Fame father was sitting directly across from the Arizona State bench, probably staring at his young son more than a few times in a game the Sun Devils struggled with continuity and offensive structure. 

“Naturally I looked and saw where he was sitting,” said Bobby Hurley. “Knowing he was there, you kind of want to do well. It’s a lot to live up to, but you want him to feel good about what you’re doing.”

 

 

Takeaway

Arizona State Men’s Basketball now has 23 wins (11 on the road) when trailing at the half in five years under Coach Hurley. In the previous five seasons before AD Ray Anderson brought Hurley to Tempe,  was 12-64 (.157) when trailing at the half.

Sun Devil Hoops had done it seven times these past two seasons: At Georgia, vs. No. 1 Kansas, at California, at UCLA, vs. Cal, and at Oregon State. So far in this young season, ASU has come back against St. John’s and Princeton.


Why the Sun Devils are falling behind early  

Kimani Lawrence and Taeshon Cherry need to surrender PT (playing time) to Khalid Thomas who has a better inside and outside touch than both. Romello White can’t be the only big expected to score and rebound on the block. Hurley should platoon Jalen Graham and Andre Allen in the middle. 6’10” Freshman John Olmsted looks worthy of some spots as well.

 

 

ASU should get effective and efficient minutes out of guys who can defend the post, experienced or not. Even Olmsted could spell Romello for 90-seconds around a television timeout. Also, the Devils could get Sophomore Kyle Feit involved. Feit is hungry and has a nice touch at 6’4” on the wing.

 

Next Up

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The University of San Francisco on “The Hilltop” at War Memorial Gymnasium. 

The Dons have two seniors measuring 6’9” and 7’0” as well as a Senior and a Sophomore at 6’8” and 6’9” who can play. If DieHard Sun Devil fans thought Virginia, St. John’s, Rider or Princeton were difficult, USF should be their toughest end-to-end matchup so far this season.

As crazy as it sounds, The Dons score the ball better than Virginia right now, and that’s not to say the Cavaliers won’t shoot better in March.  USF dropped 82 on the same Princeton team ASU faced on Tuesday Night.   

 



ASU vs UCF. Tuesday, December 2, 2019, at 8 pm 

CBS Sports Network – Radio: ESPN – KTAR 620

 

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