Devils Victorious in Final Exhibition Game

ASU completed a sweep of its exhibition schedule with a 98 – 96 victory over the Australian traveling team, EZYBOND. As the score indicates, it was a nip and tuck game, in which the Devils trailed much of the second half.

Freshman Ike Diogu led all scorers with 34 points, while also grabbing 11 boards. Ike could not be stopped in the post. He hit hooks from the baseline, short face-up banks off the glass, and put back offensive rebounds with ease. He was easily the Sun Devils' MVP in the game. Shawn Redhage continued his strong play to start his senior campaign, scoring 15 points and contributing a solid 24 minutes off the bench. Other Sun Devils in double figures were Jason Braxton with 14, and JC transfer Jamal Hill with 13 points, providing a consistent outside threat.

ASU's woes were not on the offensive end, though. EZYBOND scored at will during stretches of the game. The Aussies resembled the Princeton teams of old, playing solid, fundamental basketball. They ran shooters off multiple screens to create open looks at the basket. They also moved the ball well in the half court offense. They seemed to get an open three point shot whenever they wanted one in the first half. The Devils were not doing a good job fighting through screens or playing help defense.

The score was 49 – 49 at the half. In the second half, the lead changed hands multiple times, with neither team being able to get enough defensive stops to pull away. Things looked bad for ASU when senior Tommy Smith fouled out with over five minutes to play. The senior left with eight points. Fortunately, Diogu could not be stopped and hit big buckets to keep the Devils close.

On EZYBOND's last two possessions, the Sun Devils finally showed the defensive intensity that is a characteristic of Rob Evans' teams. They forced two long, low percentage three pointers at the end of the game to seal the victory after Kyle Dodd hit one of two free throws to give ASU a two-point lead.

Overall, this game is one in which Devil fans will have mixed emotions over. On one hand, Diogu was unstoppable in the paint and was a consistent "go to" guy down the stretch and Kyle Dodd was more assertive during his minutes on the floor. On the other hand, the Devils' defense did not play well for the second game in a row. EZYBOND got open jumpers and lay-ups all night. Additionally, Tommy Smith and Donnell Knight continued their up and down habits, with Smith fouling out early and Donnell looking timid at times. If the Devils want to have a chance to beat anyone but Chaminade in Maui, they are going to have to pick up the intensity on the defensive end. Otherwise, opponents are going to have a field day offensively.

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