ASU Tips Off Season With Exhibition Win

Exhibition games usually can't tell much about your team. However, there was no denying that ASU's trio of newcomers – Ike Diogu, Serge Angounou, and Jamal Hill are the best players that Coach Rob Evans has ever landed in his Sun Devil tenure. Case in point, the three combined for 44 points and were vital contributors in the 107-89 win Wednesday night over EA Sports.

In the first half, ASU build a modest 17-10 lead at the 15:09 mark, behind Diogu who not only had his way under the basket, but also showed a sweet touch behind the arc. However, the home team was never able to shake the visitors who slowly chipped at the lead, and eventually went down to the locker at half time with a 50-48 lead. Evans' half time adjustments were effective to say the least, as evident in the 59 points scored by ASU the second half. Hill along with Tommy Smith and Shawn Redhage led the Sun Devils in the turnaround. ASU led 60-57 at the 15:40 mark, and with 11:27 left in the game the margin mushroomed to 77-64. Despite playing the reserves for long stretches of time, the Devils never show their margin significantly eroded.

Diogu led all scorers with 21 points. Other Sun Devils in double figures were Smith with 16, Hill with 12, Angounou with 11, and Redhage with 10 points. Smith was the leading rebounder with nine, with Angounou just missing that honor with eight boards. Kyle Dodd had five assists to lead ASU. Evans' team shot a respectable 50% from the field, and 43.8% from three-point land. One disappointing aspect of the Devils' play was the sluggish performance from the free throw line – 65.5%. To the Devils' credit, they did shoot much better in the second half at 70%. Nevertheless, players such as Smith and Diogu, who are likely to be fouled the most this season were 3-8 and 3-7 respectively. This is a trend that must be corrected in time for regular season play.

Coach Rob Evans was generally pleased with the play of his squad: "For a first game of the season it was a good ball game. They (EA Sports) are a tough team that beat Utah and played well against other teams. I like to play tough teams, so we don't get a false sense of security." One glaring absence from the ASU lineup was shooting guard Curtis Millage. "He has an eligibility issue. There are some questions on a class he took. We are working on it. We tried to settle it today and we couldn't, so I decided to hold him out until this issue is settled. He's our best player on the team, and I hope this administrative issue can be resolved quickly." The ASU coach couldn't give a timetable as to when he expected to have the senior back in the lineup.

Evans said that his newcomers played: "A little nervous. That's why we play these games. They need to learn the quickness at this level. They are quick learners" He did give kudos to the three newcomers, as well as Smith and Redhage. Evans anticipated the starting small forward spot to still be up for grabs between Hill, Angounou, and Donnel Knight.

Sparky's Sundries

The Sun Devils starting lineup was Smith, Knight, Diogu, Jason Braxton, and Hill…Angounou injured his knee slipping on the wet floor while fouling. The extent of his injury is unknown, but it doesn't look to be serious. Let's hope the mop up boys do a better job the rest of the year and prevent further accidents like this…Kudos for Phil Root, aka ASU Superfan, for displaying mid-season form in his heckling of EA Sports' players. He clearly got into the heads of ASU's opponent, and some of EA Sports' players were jabbing back and fourth with Root and the student section for long minutes…It's weird trying to get used to the ASU band playing kiddie corner from the student section (per a new Pac-10 regulation)…The low point of the night was without a doubt Devils Digest's own Big E who TIED a female spectator in a shooting contest at one of the timeouts. Luckily a heated battle of ‘rock, paper, scissors' proclaimed him the victor. Nonetheless, based on his performance we are reviewing his status as message board moderator and ASU Basketball guru…

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