Knight was the only player on the floor to register a double double with 15 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive). "I want to make an impact as a senior," he said after the game, "Seeing film for the first two (exhibition) games I saw how I needed to get better. I didn't play to my potential. I need to be more aggressive…I'm trying to be a leader." And indeed he was in the first half. His 11 points during that time frame, along with Ike Diogu's seven out of his total ten points helped ASU hold a 11-3 lead at the 12:38 mark, and increase it to 26-12 with 3:57 left. The Devils went down at halftime with a double-digit lead 30-19.
The second half was an entire different story. Morehead St. outscored the hosts 37-29. They briefly led 44-43 at the 8:47 mark. Tommy Smith who was in foul trouble all evening, chipped in with nine of his 11 points in the second half to help ASU regain the lead. "Coach called on me to be more aggressive," the senior said, "As a senior you've been there (trailing at home), and you know what to do. We can't rely on Ike and put pressure on him. We have a lot of work to do, but we don't give in." However, it was a nail biter until the end. The Devils couldn't break free, and an errant full court pass by Knight gave the Eagles the ball with five seconds left, and a chance to extend the game into overtime. Morehead St. never got a good shot off, and coach Rob Evans improved his season opener record at ASU to 4-1.
"This was a good game for us to play." Said Evans, "All things considered we did a pretty good job. We're a close-knit team, and we'll put all this stuff (injuries, academic ineligibilities) behind us. We had a chance to fold, but we got it together. That's how we're gonna be for a while until we get all the pieces in place – we're just going to be a team that's going to have to rake and scrape and try to get it done any way we can get it done." Evans was probably less than thrilled with his team's old nagging woe – free throw shooting. ASU was 14-26 for 53.8%. The Devils were a miserable 1-12 from three-point range, which was offensively crippling against the Eagles' zone defense. ASU barely edges the visitors on the boards 40-39, but lost the offensive rebound battle 16-13.
Next for the Devils is the Maui invitational, where they'll meet another team who so far has had similar on and off the court problems – Kentucky. Despite the luke warm performance tonight, Evans is excited for the upcoming match, as well as the three back-to-back games next week. "I'm excited to play Kentucky. I fought tooth and nail with (coach) Tubby Smith in the SEC when he was with Georgia and Kentucky. It's great to play three very competitive games. We'll come back a better team from Maui." And if that prophecy comes true, then this squeaker of a win will be viewed later on as nothing more then old rust that has eventually cleaned out. For now, this victory featured Donnel Knight, who may have finally seen the light…
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