Devils Outlast Knights in Shootout

The 58.8% percent shooting was a welcomed sight for Arizona State, who have been struggling offensively the past couple games. However, Fairleigh Dickinson shooting at a fifty percent rate does somewhat temper the enthusiasm over the Devils 89-81 win on Monday night.

The visitors from New Jersey (2-5) led only once, 3-2 in the opening minute of play. A surprising eight points in the first five minutes from Bryson Krueger gave ASU (6-1) a 14-9 edge at the 14:52 mark. The Devils steadily increased the margin, which reached its peak at 30-15 when Ike Diogu dunked with 7:56 left in the half. Nevertheless, Fairleigh Dickinson outscored the home team 23-12 down the stretch, and was trailing only 42-38 after twenty minutes.

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Sun Devils were able to create some distance. A Jason Braxton free throw gave his team a 53-42 edge at the 15:27 mark. However, a 9-0 run cut the lead to 53-51 just five minutes later. But this is as close as the Knights would get. Diogu scored 15 points in the last 12 minutes to keep Fairleigh Dickinson at bay and keep a perfect home record in tact.

Diogu fell four points short of his career high, as he poured in 34 points, including 14-15 from the free throw line. He also topped all players with 10 rebounds. Angounou eclipsed his recently accomplished career high scoring 14 points, and Krueger accomplished the same feat with the same number of points. Jason Braxton was the fourth ASU player in double figures with 10. ASU shot well again from the line at 81.3%, and dominated the boards to the tune of 37-27. Timberlake paced the visitors with 25 points.

"It was a good effort tonight," said Rob Evans following the game. "Our guys came out and did what they had to do to win the ball game. We had a little bit of a lull at the end in the first half, but we were well in control of the game in the second half. I thought Bryson Krueger came in and played a pretty good ball game. I had a long conversation with him today about just letting go, and not worrying so much about things. That's typical for a new kid coming in. He's trying to fit in and once he gets a feel for that he gets confident, cuts loose, and plays."

"I've been proud of these guys the way they're shooting free throws," Evans continued. "They shot them well again tonight. They're really concentrating on that. I'm proud of the way they battled, considering the fact that this is our seventh game in 16 days. We haven't had a lot of time to practice. Our defense has slipped a little bit. As you can see, when people shoot 50% and score 81 points on us…we have to go back and re-establish our defense and that comes with practice…we're pleased with we are and the schedule we've had. It hasn't been a Top 10 schedule, but we played good teams. Going to Temple and beating them wasn't an easy task. Beating Vanderbilt wasn't an easy task. We found a way to win basketball games. Sometimes you won't win pretty. We have a lot to work to do to get where we want to get to. But I'm pleased with the effort."

"Coach told me today that he wanted me to have a breakout game," said Krueger who had his best game ever in the maroon and gold. "I took that personally. I wanted to play better than I've been playing. I haven't been playing up to my expectations and their expectations. I don't know what was different today. Today the shots just dropped I guess." Being the hometown kid, putting too much pressure on oneself is natural. The JC transfer said that he tries to not get caught up in that notion. "I always know where my mom is at, and she always tells me when I don't play well. Sometimes I can't hear her (smile)."

"I've been working on my shot all the time, " said Angounou who's been improving dramatically over last year. "I come here (Wells Fargo Arena) late at night, like 11 or Midnight and take shots. (But) I have a life (smile). I work on my shot also before and after practice." The sophomore admitted that right now the team isn't playing up to its capabilities, but he also believes that this will change soon. "We're gonna have time off and start working on our defense on Thursday. I have to be aggressive on defense first, and then have it carry on on offense."

The maroon and gold will get a much-needed rest until they have to face UC Riverside on the 12th. It just may be what the doctor ordered for a team that has to be experiencing significant fatigue at this juncture of the 2004-05 campaign. A rested Sun Devil team may not only continue to win, but will probably do so in more convincing fashion.

Sparky's Sundries Props to Big E for scoring a free ticket without even trying…on an unrelated basketball note, one had to be impressed by the presence of the Sun Bowl committee people at the game. They did a great job or promoting the event with various goodies given out, and raffles for a free trip to watch ASU on New Year's Eve…The Knights had an international flavor to them with players from Italy and Israel…With 3:15 left in the contest, Angounou left the game with five fouls and a rousing ovation by the 7,779 in attendance…speaking of the spectators on Monday night, it's becoming more and more painfully obvious that ASU's student section has become a disgrace. It seems they take more joy in heckling and taunting the opponent than actually cheering their own team. The insults and the profanity hurled at the Fairleigh Dickinson players was appalling, and it only ended after the Knights exited the visitors' tunnel with more abusive words flying in the air. The students engaging in this behavior may be the minority, but their voices are carrying the loudest. They're doing a great job giving the school a black eye…

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