Arizona St. Cruises Past Chaminade In Maui
By Brian Gomez, thesundevils.com
LAHAINA, Hawaii -- ASU head coach Rob Evans not only got a much-neededwin Tuesday, but also a bit of good news that will surely help his team'schances in the long run.
Just prior to tip-off in the second round of the Maui Invitational, Evanslearned that senior shooting guard Curtis Millage had been cleared to playafter an academic eligibility issue kept him out of action for the past twoweeks. Evans' players didn't know of the decision when they took the floor atthe Lahaina Civic Center, but they still rolled to a convincing 101-72victory over host Chaminade.
'It's a difficult assignment to come in here after a difficult ball gamelast night,' said Evans, whose team will face the Massachusetts-Utah winnerat 12 p.m. Wednesday in the fifth-place game. 'The patience we needed lastnight was there on the offensive end of the floor and our defense wasoutstanding.'
Evans was notified of the NCAA's ruling just minutes before the game wasscheduled to begin when assistant coach Dan O'Dowd received a call on hiscell phone. Knowing that his second-leading scorer from a year ago will beback in uniform Wednesday, Evans breathed a sigh of relief after his teameasily disposed of the Silverswords.
'The news we got was huge because this young man has had a lot of badnews and had he gotten another hit in the stomach, I don't know who can takethat,' Evans said. 'From a mental standpoint, kids can only take so much whenthey are not at fault.'
Only 14 hours after shooting 36.5 percent from the field in a 17-pointloss to 15th-ranked Kentucky, the Sun Devils (2-1) found the touch they werelooking for Tuesday. ASU drained 38 of 60 shots from inside the arc for a63.3 shooting percentage, the best ever by an Evans-coached team. The SunDevils have not shot that well from the field since March 9, 1990 when theywere 30-for-45 in an 83-75 win against No. 22 Oregon State.
ASU junior forward Jamal Hill was on the mark for the second consecutivegame. He made 3 of 4 attempts from three-point range for 17 points, butwhat's even more impressive is the fact that he has turned the ball over onlyonce in 87 minutes.
Hill might not see as much playing time with Millage back in therotation, but he will still hold a vital role. Evans plans to use Hill atboth the small forward and off-guard positions.
'It's actually going to make my job easier,' Hill said. 'They are goingto concentrate on Curtis, so more open shots for me.'
Sun Devil senior forward Tommy Smith also looked good for the first timethis season when not sitting on the bench in foul trouble. He finished with12 points and seven rebounds.
'I was more focused and I didn't commit dumb fouls,' Smith said. 'Thosedumb fouls have got to go, and that's part of being patient.'
Freshman forward Ike Diogu had a quiet 19 points during a game in whichASU's shooters garnered the most attention. Diogu scored with 4:39 remainingin the first half to help the Sun Devils extend their lead to 21 points.
ASU went on a 15-0 run heading into the break to grab a 56-23 advantageat intermission. Sun Devil senior forward Chris Osborne, who played for thefirst time this year after nursing a sprained ankle Monday, tossed in thelast five points during the scoring spree.
The Sun Devils went on an 8-0 run early in the second half and led by asmany as 35 points with 14:43 remaining after Diogu converted a three-pointplay. ASU senior guard Kyle Dodd, who scored 10 of his 12 points in thesecond half, sparked the crowd with a breakaway dunk and an alley-oop fromsenior guard Brandon Goldman.
Senior forward Leon Ballard and junior guard Jerry Wells had 15 apiecefor Chaminade, which will meet the Massachusetts-Utah loser in theseventh-place game at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The Silverswords (0-3) shot 37.5percent from the field and were 4-for-17 from beyond the arc.