Defense fuels second half comeback

For a team known for its suffocating zone defense, ASU couldn't do much to stop LSU in the first half of the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation game in New York City. The second half though was an entirely different story. The Tigers got to experience the Sun Devils' trademark up close and personal, as the maroon and gold outscored their opponent 44-18, en route to a convincing 71-52 victory.

Arizona State (5-1) stood toe to toe with LSU (3-2) for nearly the first 11 minutes of the first half. Rihards Kuksiks scored on a three-pointer to give the Devils a 17-16 lead. At that time ASU went cold for nearly five minutes and saw LSU go on a 12-0 run to grab a 28-17 at the 5:26 mark. ASU made sure the lead wouldn't grow from there, and jumper by Trent Lockett cut the halftime deficit to 34-27.

Derek Glasser led the Sun Devil rally in the half, scoring 14 points of his 24 points in that period, as his layup midway through the stanza gave his team 40-38 lead, an advantage they wouldn't relinquished the rest of the afternoon. The senior also had six assists to lead his team.

Another second half hero for ASU was center Eric Boateng, who shook off a miserable performance two days ago against Duke, and scored 12 of his 17 points in the Sun Devil comeback. He also paced all players on the floor with eight rebounds and had just two turnovers in the victory.

In the second half LSU was limited to 5 of 25 shooting from the field, and with four of its players logging 34 or more minutes each, the exhausted Tigers simply had no answer for ASU's fierce play on both ends of the court. LSU's task was especially difficult without their leading scorer Bo Spencer, who sprained his right ankle two days ago when his team lost to Connecticut in the other NIT semifinal.

Tasmin Mitchell finished with 17 points to lead LSU.

This Sun Devil victory did come with a cost, as guard Ty Abbott suffered a lacerated eye lid fighting for a loose ball. According to an ASU spokesman he will be out an indefinite amount of time.

After a successful two-game showing at Madison Square Garden, the maroon and gold return home and will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff Monday at 7:00 pm.

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