Men's Hoops Outscores EA Sports 51-27 In Second Half For 80-65 Win

Nov. 12, 2003

By Brian Gomez, TheSunDevils.com

No Ike Diogu? Not too many worries for Arizona State's men's basketball team.

Playing without their perennial leader in Wednesday's exhibition opener, the Sun Devils overcame a sluggish start and rallied to beat the EA Sports Southwest All-Stars 80-65 behind a second-half outburst from their newcomers at Wells Fargo Arena. Diogu sat out the game with a strained right hip.

Junior guard Steve Moore led the way with a game-high 21 points and freshman guard Tron Smith scored 17 points, nine of which came over a three-minute stretch early in the second half as ASU erased a 12-point deficit on the strength of a 19-4 run.

'I would much rather have had Ike out there so we could see (the newcomers) with him, but that will come,' said Sun Devil head coach Rob Evans, whose team got 64 of its 80 points (80 percent) from players who didn't play last season. 'We've got a long way to go with them, but I was pleased with how they shared the basketball and how they helped each other in the second half.'

Sparked by Smith and freshman forward Keith Wooden, ASU transformed early concerns into expected results in the opening minutes of the second half. Wooden accounted for his team's first six points, sandwiching a hook shot in the lane and a banker off the glass around an uncontested lay-in.

After freshman forward Wilfried Fameni's free-throw line jumper cut the lead to five points, Smith came alive with back-to-back three-pointers. He scored againone minute later on a hanging jumper.

'We finally got into our rhythm offensively, mainly because of the pressure we were putting on defense,' Moore said. 'Like coach Evans said, if we can get it done on the defensive end, it's going to come on offense.'

The Sun Devils took the lead for good with 12:11 remaining when senior swingman Jamal Hill drained a high-arcing shot from beyond the arc. Moore padded the slim cushion with a pull-up jumper, then freshman forward Chris Low knocked down a turnaround bank shot in the post to put ASU ahead 60-55 with 10:32 left.

'We practice and we run, but it's a big difference when the real lights come on, and we have to suit up and play,' Moore said. 'That court seemed so long. I was so tired.'

Early in the first half, the Sun Devils mixed and matched lineups more than a kid trying to choose his favorite ice cream flavor in a Baskin Robbins. Without Diogu, they went big, small and nearly everything in between against an EA Sports team that knocked off Oregon State Tuesday night.

Moore scored seven points in the opening 11 minutes to help ASU build a 20-12 lead that eventually vanished before the break. The Sun Devils trailed 38-29 at halftime.

'In the first half, our guys came out a little bit tense, and they weren't playing as hard as you have to play on this level,' Evans said. 'They came out in the second half and did a better job defensively, they did a better job executing on the offensive end and they won the hustle points.'

Hill finished with nine points and Wooden marked eight, while Fameni tallied six.Low and junior point guard Jason Braxton had five apiece. Braxton also had eight rebounds, which would have tied his career high had the game counted.

UP NEXT: ASU returns to action at 7 p.m. Monday against the Basketball Travelers in its exhibition finale at Wells Fargo Arena. The game can be heard live on www.TheSunDevils.com.

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu.

Notes: Preseason All-American Ike Diogu sat out the game as a precautionary measure with a right hip strain. He is questionable for Monday night's exhibition game against Basketball Travelers at 7 p.m...Jason Braxton led the team with eight assists and shared the rebounding lead with Moore, as they both added eight boards...ASU was just 1-of-12 from the three-point stripe in the first half but went 5-of-10 after intermission from beyond the stripe...Smith was 7-of-14 from the floor and logged a team-high 29 minutes, as 11 Sun Devils played at least 10 minutes...ASU's true freshman accounted for 36 points, as in addition to Smith's 17 Keith Wooden added eight, Wilfried Fameni six and Chris Low five...ASU posted 25 assists and held EA Sports to just 9-of-27 (.333) from the field in the second half...ASU started senior Justin Allen, junior point guard Jason Braxton and three newcomers, as Moore, Smith and Wilfried Fameni earned a starting spot...EA Sports Southwest All-Stars fell to 2-5 on its road trip, which included an overtime win at Oregon State.

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