Devils Avoid Home Loss

The game against the Cal State Fullerton Titans was suppose to be one of the easier non-conference match ups for the ASU Sun Devils this season. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell that to the visitors who were on the brink of handing the Devils their first loss of the season. Hampered by poor free throw shooting down the stretch, Arizona State escaped with an 83-76 win.

Tron Smith scored five of the team's first eight points; as ASU sported an 8-2 lead at the 15:27 mark of the first half. Cal State Fullerton showed early on that they were up for the task, and Pape Sow's dunk narrowed the margin to 17-16 with 10:34 left in the half. The Sun Devils were sloppy and impatient against the Titan's zone, and were unable to halt the visitors' outside shooting. Thus, they weren't able to break away, and eventually Fullerton grabbed the lead for the first time, 24-23 lead at the 7:43 mark, on a Brian Pruitt lay-up. Anthony Bolton's three-point basket a minute later gave the Titans' their biggest lead of the night 29-25. However, a pair of three point baskets by Jamal Hill, along with the fine play of Justin Allen sparked a 16-2 run and sent ASU to the locker room with a 41-31 lead.

Just like in their last game, the Sun Devils came out in the second half with vigor and increased the gap to 51-35 thanks to a pair of long-range bombs by Jason Braxton and Steve Moore. At that point, all signs were that this contest would end true to script with an ASU blowout. Nevertheless, Fullerton refused to roll over, and for the last 11 minutes it generally kept the Devils' lead in single digits. Bobby Brown's basket with 11 second left cut down the lead to 80-76. Despite the plethora of missed ASU free throws, mainly by Ike Diogu and Jason Braxton, the home team found a way to squeak out a less than impressive victory.

Diogu led all players with 22 points, and was tied with Steve Moore for the team high in rebounds with nine. Moore led ASU with five assists along with his 14 points. Jamal Hill (13 points) and Will Fameni (11 points) provided the crucial spark off the bench. Justin Allen had a strong effort as well in a reserve role with five points and six caroms. The Devils shot only 37.5& from the field, and were an abysmal 59.6% from the charity stripe. The Devils had a slight edge on the boards 49-46, and committed only eight turnovers. Derick Andrew paced the Titans with 21 points, while their big presence in the middle, Pape Sow, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

A visibly perturbed Rob Evans said following the game that he was glad his team won, but was naturally disappointed with the manner in which the victory was achieved. "I thought our guys got out competed," he said. "Expect for the last three minutes of the first half. That's unacceptable."

The ASU coach said that the team's convincing win in the first game of the season might have been a culprit in tonight's performance. "Anytime you have a young group of guys," exclaimed Evans. "You come out of the first basketball game excited, things go well for you…you have a tendency to feel pretty good about yourself. We'll take care of that… we'll take the win, but we'll work on understanding what it takes to compete on this level."

Evans didn't think that the zone defense employed all night by Fullerton should have posed so many difficulties. "We're a pretty good shooting team," Evans said. "But when you're not mentally focused for the basketball game, you don't make shots, you don't make free throws. We got zoned the other night and we attacked it. We shouldn't be bothered by it. We didn't show any patience."

The Sun Devil skipper applauded the effort that Justin Allen gave in the win. "Whenever I call on him he'll be ready. It's a nice lesson for young kids to learn. He hasn't played as much as he'd like to play. But we needed his experience and defense, and he came in and competed very well." Evans also commended the play fellow reserves Will Fameni and Jamal Hill, although he hinted that Hill played better on offense compared to his defensive display.

The Sun Devils may want to move up the Thanksgiving feast by a day, since they will need to replenish the vast amounts of energy that are due to be spent on what should be a grueling Wednesday's practice. Will ASU remember the Titans and the game they played tonight? Saturday's game against UC Riverside at 1PM should provide the answer.

Sparky's Sundries Justin Allen hauled down a career high six rebounds. He played 19 minutes, and started they second half over Keith Wooden…No one would have predicted this prior to the game, but Ike Diogu played 38 minutes…Once again there were several NBA scouts in attendance who were not only scooping out Diogu, but also Fullerton's Pape Sow…Ex Sun Devil Shawn Redhage was also spotted in the stands…The Titans' Hardy Asprilla drew the ire of the student section when he spat at them in the second half. A loud chorus of boos ensued every time he touched the ball…Fellow Titan Pape Saw was heckled with the catcalls of "Mervyns's…Mervyns's" in relationship to his shoplifting incident at that department store. Which begs the question (from XTRA 910's Chris Lewis): what can a 6-10 250 person possibly find at that store that would fit him…?

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