ASU coach Bobby Hurley and guard Shannon Evans discuss on thei 94-74 win over Idaho State
Arizona State basketball provided a tantalizing glimpse Friday night of what could unfold in coach Bobby Hurley’s third season.
Even without three key players, the Sun Devils were more productive inside than most all of last season in a 94-74 win over Idaho State at Wells Fargo Arena.
Senior guard Shannon Evans scored 25, but the star of the game was 6-9 forward De’Quon Lake, a junior college transfer from Iowa Western. Lake scored 24 in his ASU debut, hitting 8-of-10 from the field in part because of some thunderous jams. He also blocked three shots including a lightning quick rejection in the first half when the game still was close.
“What De’Quon did tonight was pretty good in terms of how he finished and his motor and his presence around the rim at both ends and his rebounding,” Hurley said. “Their big guy (7-0 Novak Topalovic) is a legit threat in the post, and he played him very well straight up. He just had a tremendous week of practice, the best I’ve seen from him, so I’m not completely surprised by how good he played.”
Lake has help coming in 6-8 redshirt freshman Romello White, who sat out for a team rules violation but could be back Tuesday against San Diego State (1-0). Also Mickey Mitchell, 6-7 transfer from Ohio State, will be eligible to play Dec. 10 at Kansas. And 6-7 Kimani Lawrence, a true freshman, had to delay his college debut because of an ankle sprain suffered in practice Thursday but has a chance to go against the Aztecs or Northern Arizona on Nov. 17, Hurley said.
ASU lost all of a 22-10 lead as Jacob McCord came off the bench to help Idaho State pull even at 28 with 6:27 left in the first half.
The Sun Devils regained control with a 23-5 run to end the first half ahead 51-33. Lake had 13 points at halftime.
“Our charge late in the first half was very impressive,” Hurley said. “It’s something we talk a lot about in practice, how you finish a half. We talked about winning the last four minutes and we spurted 12-0, which was huge to start breaking the game open.”
ASU opened the second half with a 13-4 run to lead by a game high 27 points (64-37) on the way to winning its second straight opener. Idaho State, coming off a 6-26 season, could get no closer than 17 the rest of the way before a smallish crowd of 5,697.
Evans, who scored 50 in an exhibition Nov. 3, hit for half of that lofty total to tie for sixth most points in an ASU opener since 1987. Lake is tied for eighth in that category. Senior guard Tra Holder flirted with a triple double with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“De’Quon was amazing tonight,” Evans said. “All week, him and Mello (White) was going at it. It was really competitive. That made both of them pick the level of play up and it carried over. He impacted the game tremendously, got everybody going, blocking shots, protecting the rim, rebounding, dunking. We need him to keep that going for us to be a good team.”
Lake, who also had eight rebounds, said, “I felt good in the shoot around, in the locker room, just had a bunch of energy.”
The ASU guards already are looking down low for Lake, who showed good hands. The Sun Devils still like to shoot the three (going 9-of-30) but have other options with Lake, 6-9 Vitaliy Shibel, White and others.
Because of the emerging post depth, 6-10 sophomore Ramon Vila decided earlier in the week to leave the program and transfer where he can get more playing time. Vila averaged 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in 33 games last season.
“We enjoyed having Ramon in the program,” Hurley said. “I think it was more of enjoying playing the game and having more of a role that he’s looking for. We support him. He’s been a great guy and a great part of our program while he’s here. We hope nothing but the best for him as he finds the situation that he’s looking for.”