Devils Down Highlanders

With final exams coming up this week, the Arizona State Men's Basketball team passed another early season test on Sunday night, besting UC-Riverside 75-59. The Devils pushed their mark to 7-1 on the season after a six-day layoff and won't play again until next Monday against Northwestern. The loss evened UC-Riverside's record at 3-3.

Bryson Krueger paced the Devils with 23 points, including 21 in the first half on 7 of 8 shooting and 5 drained from beyond the arc. "I thought he really battled out there tonight," said Coach Rob Evans of his shooting guard. "He's gotten more comfortable around what we're trying to do offensively."

Krueger had 11 of the Devils' first 15 points, including 3 three-pointers and an athletic tip-in off of a Jason Braxton miss. "It's a good feeling, kind of hard to explain," said Krueger, a sophomore transfer from Yavapai Community College, of his hot start. "They were focusing early on Ike down low and didn't really guard me the first two or three shots so I just kept on shooting."

Riverside made a push to get into the game with a 13-6 run to start the second half to pull within 41-36. But after switching from the zone that had been successful in the first half, to a man-to-man, Ike Diogu made his mark. After scoring only six points in the first half on 3 of 5 field goal attempts, Diogu and the Sun Devils answered the Highlanders challenge with a 22-7 run of their own to push the score to 63-42 with over seven minutes to play.

Diogu sparked the run with more touches inside while being guarded by Villi Morton, putting up 13 points in the second half to finish the game with 19. Ike's 19 points were his 67th game in double digits in as many tries.

While the Devils finished strong in the second half, they ended the game with 23 turnovers compared to 21 assists. That's a ratio that the Sun Devils can't afford to continue with approaching Pac-10 play. "We haven't put it all together yet for 40 minutes," Evans said of his teams up and down performance. "We can't turn the ball over 23 times. We need in the area of 12 to 13 turnovers per game to be successful."

The Sun Devils were also successful at creating turnovers, forcing nine in the first half, and several in the waning moments to fuel an 11-2 run that pushed the first half score to 35-23. Jason Braxton and Steve Moore each had a steal near the top of the key allowing the Devils to run in transition and helping to avoid the zone defense that plagued them for much of the first half.

Braxton added two free throws after time had expired in the first half when he was fouled following up his own miss. Braxton finished the night with 5 points and was 3 of 4 from the charity stripe. His eight rebounds were second on the team to Diogu's nine.

News and Notes: ASU's game against Northwestern next Monday will be the second year in a row the two schools meet. The Sun Devils lost last year's contest in Evanston on a last second shot…… Coach Evans said his team will practice sparingly this week as his players focus on final exams. Evans added that the team will be practicing in the Student Recreation Complex all week…… The Devils were 17-for-22 at the free throw line, continuing their improvement from last year.

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