Solid 72-68 Team Win For @SunDevilHoops Against California
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By Brandon Jones, Walter Cronkite School Class of 2021
A strong performance from underneath along with scoring from Remy Martin and defense from Jaelen House lifted Arizona State to a 72-68 win over California late Thursday at Desert Financial Arena.
Jalen Graham, Kimani Lawrence, and Marcus Bagley combined for 30 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks on a combined 13-of-19 shooting.
"I thought it was a pretty gutty performance," said head coach Bobby Hurley. "I really like what I saw tonight. If I could single someone out -- I usually just talk more about generalities about the team performance -- but Jaelen House (three steals) was most likely the difference maker in the game. His energy on defense...he was flying around. He had nine deflections, which if we're in the high 20s, low 30s as a team, that's a pretty good stat. He was exceptional in that department. We had a poor stretch of offense in the first half where we were stuck on 21 for a while and started the game way better than we've been starting games, so I was very happy about that."
The Sun Devils (5-8; 2-5) overcame struggles from beyond on the arc (.214) but shot 24-of-41 from inside the three-point line to hold off the Golden Bears. Senior All-American Remy Martin led the way with 19 points, followed by his help from his big men and an additional 11 points from freshman Josh Christopher.
Coach Bobby Hurley decided that he needed a starting lineup change after Monday's slow start against rival Arizona Wildcats, and his changes paid off against the Golden Bears (7-11; 2-9), as the Sun Devils got off to an immediate 17-5 lead in the first nine minutes of the first half.
Cal made just two of its first 14 shots. The Bears got back into the game with a 9-0 run that closed a 25-13 deficit to 25-22 and then took a 30-29 lead to cap a half-ending 17-4 run. The Bears had 12 offensive rebounds in the opening period and held ASU without a field goal the final 3:19 of the half.
The Sun Devils came out of the break by making back-to-back 3-pointers to take back the lead. Cal, though, used a 7-0 spurt to move in front, 48-47, on a pair of Bradley free throws. ASU later went ahead for good on a layup by Marcus Bagley with 8:03 left.
The Sun Devils led for most of the way (33:37 with the lead) and never trailed by more than two points. It got a solid performance from senior Kimani Lawrence, who posted nine points and eight boards in just 22 minutes.
NOTES: Marcus Bagley led ASU with four assists...ASU had 20 points off Cal turnovers...ASU held Cal to .393 (24-of-61) from the field...Matt Bradley was just 4-of-17 from three against ASU in two games...ASU had eight steals.
NEXT UP: The Sun Devils will host the 10-5 Stanford Cardinal on Saturday at 8 p.m MT on ESPN2, with Dave Pasch and Bill Walton on the call.
JALEN GRAHAM TOP SCORING GAMES
14 at Arizona/Jan. 25, 2021
12 vs. California/Jan. 21, 2021
10 vs. Arizona/Jan. 21, 2021
10 vs. San Diego State/Dec. 10, 2020
10 vs. Central Connecticut State/Nov. 14, 2019
JALEN GRAHAM TOP MINUTES
33 vs. San Diego State/Dec. 10, 2020
29 at Arizona/Jan. 25, 2021
28 vs. Colorado (China)/Nov. 8, 2019
27 vs. California/Jan. 28, 2021
JALEN GRAHAM TOP REBOUNDING GAMES
11 at Arizona/Jan. 25, 2020
7 at Washington/Feb. 1, 2020
7 vs. Arizona/Jan. 25, 2020
SUN DEVIL HEAD COACH BOBBY HURLEY
"I thought it was a pretty gutty performance. I really like what I saw tonight. If I could single someone out, I usually just talk more about generalities about the team performance, but Jaelen House was most likely the difference maker in the game. His energy on defense, he was flying around. He had nine deflections himself, which if we're in the high 20s, low 30s as a team, that's a pretty good stat for us. Individually, he was exceptional in that department. We had a poor stretch of offense in the first half where we were stuck on 21 for a while and started the game way better than we've been starting games, so I was very happy about that.
"The one negative too was our rebounding in the first half. They got too many offensive rebounds, but we kind of fixed that in the second half and did a better job at rebounding the ball.
"We are just very excited that the guys had an opportunity to win, we've been knocking on the door in several games, over the last couple weeks and glad we were able to break through that tonight."
On line-up change for this game
"I liked our size initially in the game, and we got some bigger guys, bigger bodies out on the floor. There were some more interchangeable defenders with Marcus, Kimani and Josh, and then we could go to the bench and bring some more speed and energy into the game, so it worked out well. Hopefully there's some carry over with it."
On having a win for the first time in over a month
"I think there's some relief in the locker room. I think the guys are happy for a guy like Jaelen House. He hasn't always had the opportunity, that's one of the more crowded positions on our team. That's the thing about life, if you're presented with an opportunity you want to try and seize it and take advantage of it and Jaelen showed signs of that on how he was fighting and competing in our last Arizona game, and then he did the exact same thing tonight and even did a better job. We talked about his defense, but he made a really clutch drive and finished in a critical time at the end of the game."
On defense effort in second half and Jaelen's impact
"We were frustrated with our rebounding at halftime, and we talked about that. I think Jaelen House provided a unique spark, and I think it was contagious amongst the group. I'm not going to discount the impact that he had, and I think other guys were doing it as well. I thought we did a fairly good job […]. I think it was a good step in the right direction without me getting overly excited about this.
On giving Jaelen a more significant role in the backcourt
"We noticed what he was doing against Arizona and the positive play that he had and that has to be rewarded. Like everyone this year, we've had guys sick, we've had guys injured, and he's missed some practice time, but when he's on the court in practice, he's vocal, he's energetic, he flies around, he plays hard. We just need more life infused into what we're doing, and I think he did that tonight."
On offensive rebounding
"We were making them miss, and I know that they might've missed a few lay ups and a couple of open shots, but their percentages were really low, and they were getting bailed out because we weren't quick enough to the ball. They were getting 50/50 balls and getting 3-point plays, so we can't really afford to do that. With that being said, they only had 30 points at half time. I thought early in the game they had five points, I want to say around the 10-minute mark of the first half, so I thought we did a good job defensively overall."
On establishing defense early on compared to Monday's game
"I have a lot of competitors, and the guys weren't feeling good about themselves after our performance [during Monday's game], and we certainly wanted to do something about that. I do like, for this game, [we had] a couple of guys six-five, six-seven, six-eight, six-nine, along with your point guard, I think put us in a better position to establish ourselves defensively early in the game."
On flow of offense during the game
"I think at the nine-minute mark we had 21 points; I'm just guessing it was around that time. We were in a stretch where we were struggling to rebound and then also, I thought we took a few quick shots without passing the ball very often. I thought early in the game we were sharing the ball very well, so hopefully, we'll have more minutes during the course of the game like that stretch and less like the end of the first half."
On Remy's performance and what allows him to draw a foul often
"I think keeping focus on getting the ball out of his hands or trying to deny him as much as possible, or trying to contest the shot, he really has a good feel and understanding if a defender is out of position and he can capitalize on that."
On Jaelen Graham's performance on offense
"I'm looking to try and be a little more balanced. We're certainly heavy outside in, getting to the basket, so he had a couple of hoops in the first half, and we were able to get the ball to him, and hopefully we can continue to build on that to get more of a post presence that we can throw the ball to on offense and trust that."
On how his mindset has changed during the last few games
"I feel like I have to be more aggressive. I feel like I was just out there at first playing timid, and not trying to come out the game. I feel like I'm getting back to myself right now."
On his favorite part of being in his current role
"[Being able to] get in the game since I hadn't really been playing."
On balance of court and what they're trying to improve
"We're trying to work on passing and staying spaced as a team because as you guys have seen, [that's] not [going] too well, so that is something we're trying to work on and continue to do in practice."
On driving layup during last 30 seconds of the game
"I just did it. I just reacted. It happened."
On how he helps set the team up to win
"Not a lot of people like to play defense, so I go out there and try to do something nobody else likes to do. I feel like I'm one of the best defenders in our conference, so I just go out there, try to do what I do and try to get transition points because we're not a big team. We're fast, we like to get in transitions."
On how he felt about the chemistry within the team during the game
"I feel like we could work on it a little bit. It got a bit sloppy and out of hand. We have practice tomorrow, so we can just work on that tomorrow."
On when he started enjoying playing defense
"Probably when I got to high school."
CAL HEAD COACH MARK FOX
"Tonight we tested the theory of little things and when you understand the consequences of little things you realize there's no such thing as a little thing. The little mistakes tonight were extremely costly in a game that ended up being a two-possession game, a turnover that led to a layup, not forcing someone to a ball screen that led to a layup, a missed free throw, and not making our own layups. The little things add up and are extremely costly and I thought tonight we played hard, we got off to a very poor start but battled back to somehow grab the lead at the half, got off to a poor start in the second half and battled back and made it a really competitive game. The little things and the mistakes that we made throughout the contest is what gets you beat at the end of the day, but we'll rebuild and that's an important lesson for us to learn."
ON MATT BRADLEY'S EFFORT
"Matt is not the Matt Bradley that everyone saw a year ago, he's had injuries to both legs. He doesn't have the same legs he had a year ago, eventually he will but right now he doesn't, but I thought he played really hard. A lot of the things that he can finish didn't quite go in tonight and he's a little out of rhythm and will need to get some conditioning back. I love his spirit to compete and it just wasn't his night to make some of those plays but he still had a heck of a night."
ON JALEN CELESTINE
"Jalen continues to get more and more comfortable on the floor, I thought he was really good defensively, he finished the first half really well and I thought he passed it well. He's getting very valuable minutes and taking advantage of them and his best days are in front of him, I thought he had some positive moments."
ON DECISION NOT FOULING WITH 52 SECONDS LEFT
"We had two timeouts, we got a missed free throw -- if we could get a bucket really quick, we use our timeouts and then we were going to foul. We were trying to get a stop first and we obviously needed a couple possessions, but they kept the ball in the right shooters' hands."