Devils Wallop Wildcats

Ike Diogu scored five points in the first half, and his remarkable double-digit scoring streak was kept in tact with only six minutes left in the game. Surely this was a recipe for disaster for the Sun Devils, right? Tonight at Wells Fargo arena nothing could be further from the truth, as the senior's supporting cast spearheaded a 90-55 thumping of Northwestern.

Serge Angounou scored the Devils' first six points, but five points by the Wildcats' Tim Doyle kept the score tied up at 9-9 at the 15:23 mark. Vedran Vukusic gave the visitors a 15-14 edge with 10:30 left in the half, which marked the last time ASU relinquished the lead. Diogu's three-point basket capped a 19-8 run that put his team ahead 33-23 at the 3:51 mark of the first stanza. However, the Sun Devils' trend of late first half lapses reared its ugly head once again, as the Cats were able to narrow the gap to 35-32 at halftime.

ASU stormed out the gates in the second half. A SportsCenter worthy dunk by Jason Braxton, followed by a rare three point basket gave the maroon and gold a 48-37 lead at the 16:24 mark of the second half. Later on, a pair of long-range baskets by Kevin Kruger put the Devils comfortably ahead 60-47 with 9:45 remaining in the contest. At the 6:22 mark, not only does Diogu notch his precious tenth point, in way of a free throw, but the senior also propels his team to a 71-51 lead. From this point on, Rob Evans' squad finished out the game on a 19-4 run, highlighted by a pair Tyrone Jackson three point baskets.

Steve Moore paced all players with 18 points and six assists, and was one of five Sun Devils in double figures. Diogu added 17, along with six rebounds and a game-high four blocks. Jackson scored 12 points on 4-5 shooting behind the arc, which is the same number of points that Angounou notched. Braxton scored 10 points. T.J. parker led Northwestern with 14 points.

ASU was sizzling on the offensive front converting 65% of their three-point shots (13-20), and 59.6% of their field goals. The Sun Devils turned over the ball only six times in the game and led the opposition 9-1 in blocks. They held Northwestern to 25% shooting in the second half and 38.2% for the contest.

"Our guys really came out tonight with a purpose," said coach Rob Evans following the game. "That's a pretty good basketball team we played tonight. In the second half we took them out everything they tried to do, as far as back doors and posting our guards up. I always said that the defense is a catalyst for our offense. We put a lot of emphasize on taking care of the basketball."

Concerning Ike's uncharacteristic game, Evans remarked: "He was very patient on the offensive end, and when he wasn't getting the basketball, he did other things like defending and getting rebounds. When people come out in a zone and double and triple team Ike, we have enough confidence in a number of guys that can stretch the defense." Evans agreed that this game probably marked his team's best effort this season against a zone defense.

"They had a tough zone going," said Diogu, "I had a lot guys around me and our guys were smart and didn't want to force anything to me. I just had to wait when they went eventually man-to-man, and give me the ball where I can score." The forward was very complimentary of Braxton's dunk saying that he would "be very upset" if it didn't make it to ESPN's SportsCenter highlight reel.

Steve Moore felt that this victory was a very significant one on many levels. "It put the Pac-10 on the map, it put ASU on the map," he said. "We beat a Big Ten team that beat us last year. We felt like we shouldn't have lost last year, and we had to do what we had to do this year, and we did it." Even though he was the offensive leader tonight, the guard realizes his value is also on the other side of the ball. "Coaches think I'm a spark plug," he remarked. "They told me that if I play good ‘D' we win, because I get everybody pumped up. I'm a senior and I know my team depends on me to play good ‘D'. Playing good ‘D' makes it easier on the offense."

Moore commented how he loves to energize the crowd with his play, and hopes that the home attendance figures will grow even more from here on out. "I hope people come out to the games," he exclaimed. "We started off slow and people didn't believe in us. But we're legit. Just come out and check us out, give us the support and we know we can keep on getting the ‘W's.

It goes without saying that ASU will go as far as any player not named Ike Diogu will take them. That was painfully obvious last year, and conversely has become a welcomed sight in this young season. Several players through out the 2004-05 campaign have stepped up at various times, and players such as Angounou and Braxton have been playing the best consistent brand of basketball of their ASU tenure. Some may want to temper the enthusiasm that this 8-1 basketball team has generated, and point to the inferior competition the Devils have played. True as it may be, displays such as the one on Monday night coupled with a generally weak Pac-10 conference, just may prove the doom and gloom pre-season predictions as sheer nonsense.

Sparky's Sundries The announced 8,479 in attendance were clearly the most boisterous crowd of the season. With thunderous dunks by Braxton and Diogu, along with the plethora three-point baskets, the Sun Devils spectators rose to their feet on several occasions…The 13 three-point baskets made by the Sun Devils are the most since 1996…Braxton's monster dunk should have made the nightly sports highlight shows, and if nothing else will make one hec of a poster in the future…Northwestern employed several times the Princeton back-door offense. The scheme when clicking, has to be one of the most frustrating ones to defend…Northwestern featured three players from Split, Croatia, one player from Montreal, Quebec, and former Phoenix Greenway star Vince Scott.

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