Sun Devils Sail Past Huskies

Jan 9, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

While playing in front of a host of scouts and pros Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena, Tommy Smith turned in the type of performance typically seen only in the NBA.

Two years after making 11-of-11 shots against Washington, the senior forward marked another phenomenal outing against the Huskies with 13 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, five assists, a career-high-tying six blocks and only one turnover. His dominant play lifted the Arizona State men's basketball team to an 89-57 victory over Washington before a crowd of 7,020that included the likes of Memphis Grizzlies forwards Drew Gooden, Stromile Swift and Mike Batiste.

'Those numbers are kind of hard to beat, but they're numbers I'm going to have to strive for,' said Smith, who had more rebounds at halftime (12) than the entire Washington team (11). 'Now, I have something I can go after.'

Smith's electrifying game not only proved that the Sun Devils (10-4, 2-1 Pac-10) have more than just one weapon in freshman forward Ike Diogu, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes, but it also shed light on what they are capable of when clicking on all cylinders.

Less than a week ago, ASU relinquished 61 points in the second half in a lopsided loss at Oregon and allowed the Ducks to shoot better than 80 percent from the field after the break. On Thursday, the Sun Devils held the Huskies (6-6, 1-2) to only 57 points and 33.9 percent shooting from inside the arc.

They also shot 55.6 percent (35-for-63) from the field, scored 23 points off Washington's 15 turnovers and held a 47-28 advantage on the boards.

'On a consistent basis, this is the best my team has played defense,' said head coach Rob Evans, whose team recorded 13 blocks, which marked the most by any ASU squad since 1987 and set the record for the most ever given up by Washington in a single game. 'The thing we've been trying to create here is understanding how to defend people. If you defend people, youroffense feeds off your defense.'

Smith was all over the floor early, as he put back senior shooting guard Curtis Millage's miss and converted a three-point play for his team's first five points. He later hit a leaning shot in the paint and knocked down a pair of free throws to help the Sun Devils extend their lead to as many as 12 points before the break.

Junior swingman Jamal Hill scored six of his 14 points during ASU's 17-5 run over a five-minute stretch midway through the first half. The Huskies, who at times employed a full-court press, stayed close thanks to the hot shooting of junior guard Curtis Allen and sophomore guard Will Conroy, both of whom drained a pair of three-pointers in the first half. The Sun Devils led 43-32 at intermission.

Washington trimmed the deficit to five points with 17:43 remaining before ASU went on a 7-0 run that was capped with Diogu's dunk on a pass from Smith. The Sun Devils later put the game away with an 11-0 run during which Smith blew by his defender at the free-throw line and soared for a high-flying dunk that sent the crowd onto its feet.

'He did everything coach wanted him to do and even a little extra,' said Hill, who had 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. 'That just lifted us and we kind of went off Tommy. He put us on his back and everybody went from there.'

Overshadowed in Smith's stellar all-around game was his gritty effort on the defensive end against Washington junior forward Doug Wrenn, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field. Wrenn scored a team-high 30 points last year in his team's 86-74 loss to ASU at Ned Wulk Court.

'All coach Evans talks about in practice is how defense wins games,' Smith said. 'It was blocked shots, rebounding and a lot of steals from the point guards. We just played 'D' like we do in practice and it led to a great game.'

GAME NOTES: The Sun Devils hold a 32-20 lead in the all-time series...They have won six in a row and 15 of their last 16 home games against the Huskies...ASU is 23-4 (.852) in the past two seasons when leading at the half...The Sun Devils have held eight opponents to under 40 percent field goal shooting this season...Millage tallied 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to up his scoring average to 16.7 in the past three games...Smith hasnotched 28 assists in his last six games...Diogu is the only Sun Devil to score in double figures in all 14 games this season...ASU senior forward Shawn Redhage is shooting 18-for-32 (.563) from the field in his last six games.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils are scheduled to return to action at 7 p.m. Saturday when hosting Washington State at Wells Fargo Arena. The Cougars (5-7, 0-3) sustained an 82-69 setback against No. 2-ranked Arizona on Thursday night at McKale Center in Tucson.

ALLEN QUESTIONABLE FOR SATURDAY: ASU junior forward Justin Allen is questionable for Saturday with a sprained right ankle. He did not play Thursday against Washington.

'We hope he'll be able to give us some minutes because we're certainly going to need him when playing back-to-back games,' Evans said.

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