Devils Win Final Exhibition Game in a Rout

Both of the Sun Devils exhibition games were played against teams from Canada. This is however where the similarities begin and end. On Monday night against the University of Alberta, the maroon and gold played much more inspired than their pre-season opener. ASU opened the game with a 14-0 score, which set the tone for the rest of the contest which ended in a 85-54 victory.

Arizona State led 21-5 at the 9:55 mark, and four minutes later the margin grew to 35-7. The Devils took their foot off the accelerator and allowed the visitors from Canada to get back within a respectable margin, as the halftime score was 38-19. Bruno Claudino was the surprise leading scorer in the first twenty minutes with nine points.

That trend continued in the second half where ASU allowed 35 points by the visitors, many of them courtesy of Andrew Parker who dazzled the crowd with four alley-oops. Nevertheless, the home team was always in control. Allen Morill scored all his 15 points in the second stanza, and was a perfect 5-5 from the field.

Bryson Krueger paced his team with 17 points, while Claudino finished with 16. Morill with 15 and Tyrone Jackson with ten were the other Sun Devils in double figures. The most complete game was played by Kevin Kruger who lead the team in assists with nine, as well as rebounds with six. The junior ended the night with nine points.

The maroon and gold has a superb night of shooting at 54.2%, including 40% behind the arc. However the blemishes in the stat sheet show up in a razor thin margin in rebounds (36-35), trailing in offensive boards 13-11, and converting also 54.2% form the free throw.

"I thought the guys played better from last game to this game," said Head Coach Rob Evans said following the contest. "Especially in the first half, I thought the intensity was really good, especially on defense. Early in the second half we did a good job, but as the game went on, we let up a little bit. We have to do a better job rebounding the basketball. We gave up too many offensive rebounds. We were boxing out, but just not pursuing the ball. Those are thing that correctable and we'll work on them."

Eleven days separated ASU's fist and second exhibition game, which according to Evans was beneficial. "We had a chance to work," he remarked. "We looked at the tape and saw where we needed more work. This is a process with these guys and we'll continue to work. I like this basketball team and I think they'll continue to get better and better every week. They play extremely hard, and we have to be a good defensive team to be successful."

The Sun Devil skipper was not surprised by the offensive output seen from Claudino on Monday night. "He can score, and we know he can score when we recruited him," Evans commented. "His numbers (were low)…because he was injured. He was highly recruited. We recruited him early after his freshman year, and a lot of teams were on him like Boston College, South Carolina, UMass and then he got injured. He didn't do anything tonight that he hasn't done in practice."

Evans was pleased with the way Kevin Kruger played at the point guard position, as well as the way Tyrone Jackson played that role. The ASU head coach said that starting point guard's Antwi Atuahene nose injury is much less severe than it was initially believed to be, and that the only reason he didn't play on Monday night was because that he wasn't fitted for a mask yet. He's expected to be fitted with that device mid-week and play in the season opener on November 23rd. In regards to Jeff Pendergraph, he should be able to play later this month and has been going through practice drills without contact.

ASU will host Southern Utah in its first regular season game. While the Thunderbirds may be just a notch better than the Devils' exhibition opponent on Monday night, the team will have to improve on its deficiencies to ensure that the season opener will be smooth sailing. The maroon and gold play their first four games in a span of only seven days, and can ill afford to get into any dogfights during that period.

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