Men's Hoops Tops Portland 76-60 in Season Opener
by Marcos Granda, Sun Devil Communications Intern
The Sun Devil men's hoops team got its first win in the season opener with a 76-60 victory over the Portland Pilots.
Although the Sun Devils started off slow, the 17-5 run combined between the last minute of the first half, and the beginning of the second, gave Bobby Hurley's squad a 43-30 lead that they would hold on for the remainder of the game.
One of the keys for the Sun Devils' success in the second half was the improvement on the three-point line. After going 2-of-16 in the first, ASU closed the game on 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. The top contributor in that aspect was sophomore transfer DJ Horne, who nailed three 3-pointers, adding another field goal for 11 points.
Horne was one of the five Sun Devils in double digits. The top scorer for ASU was Kimani Lawrence, who notched 19 points on 7-11 from the field, and 5-of-5 on free throws, and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double.
KIMANI LAWRENCE TOP SCORING GAMES
22 vs. Washington (2/23/21)
21 vs. Washington (2/25/21)
22 vs. #22 Mississippi State (11/19/18)
19 vs. Portland (11/9/21)
18 at UCLA (2/20/21)
18 vs. Omaha (11/28/18)
"Coach Hurley wanted me to work on my handles, he wanted me to dribble the ball a lot more this year. We focused on that during the offseason." Lawrence said.
Other top performers were center Alonzo Gaffney with 15 (7-of-9 FGs including a three), Marcus Bagley (12) and Luther Muhammad (10).
"There was a lot of rust, especially in the first half." Bagley said. "It felt good to be out there though, with fans. It's been two years since I played a game in front of fans. A little bit of nerves, a little bit of anxiety, but it was good to get that out of the way, and now it's time to go out there and get a win on Thursday."
Although the first half started slow for ASU, with only one made basket in the first 5 minutes, Bobby Hurley's squad was able to gain some confidence through defense, forcing 15 turnovers.
That confidence translated into the last play of the half, in which Marreon Jackson stole the ball from the Pirates to score at the buzzer and make the score 31-25 at halftime. That, together with the dunks by freshman Enoch Boakye and Gaffney, were the top plays of the game.
The team will have another chance to play in front of their home crowd this upcoming Thursday (Nov. 11), when they will host the UC Riverside Highlanders at 6:30 p.m.
ASU HEAD COACH BOBBY HURLEY
"Happy to get this game under our belt. We could play the scrimmage and the exhibition, but we needed real live action, in a good crowd and a WCC opponent. It was good for us, I think we'll get a lot out of it. Overall, I just feel OK. We won the game, we did what we needed to do, we had the game in doubles for a majority of the second half, kind of controlled it there. I think we shot way too many 3s early in the first half, too many quick ones too. And then the turnovers were a problem today. It's been a little different, we hadn't seen that yet, so we'll take a look at those and see how we can make some adjustments. Praise to our defense, we turned them over 21 times."
About the missing 3-pointers and turnovers
"Some of it was [because of the first-game jitters]. I think our best shots came off driving kicks, and then some of them were just early before there were any passes, so the success rate on those type of shots is not great unless you're really in a great rhythm on offense and have a lot of momentum. Then those types of shots tend to go in. I think we took a lot of long ones early, so we just gotta get back to what we were doing in our other two games that we played, in terms of moving the ball a little better on the offensive end."
GRADUATE KIMANI LAWRENCE
About the new players on the interior positions
"It helped a lot to have Alonzo Gaffney and Enoch Boakye, it was a testament from us, we're finally bringing some size to help us out this year, it was one of our weaknesses last year and we adjusted that. These guys just want to compete, and hold each other accountable, and that is something we focused on in practice and I'm glad it carried over to the game."
About the adjustments on the second half
"We were up at halftime, but we weren't really satisfied with our performance. As a leader, I definitely knew Hurley wasn't gonna be happy with what we did in the first half, so we talked about it in the locker room, about what we needed to do, what we needed fixing, and what we needed to address, and we just carried that out. We approached the second half as if it was a completely new game, and it worked for us."
- Kimani Lawrence recorded his third career double-double, scoring 19 points and collecting 10 rebounds. He also added three steals, one of four Sun Devils with at least two steals.
- Sun Devils shot 56.3% (18-of-32) and scored 45 points in the second half after shooting only 38.2% and producing 31 points in the first half.
- Alonzo Gaffney and Kimani Lawrence combined for 23 points and nine rebounds in 30 second half minutes.
- Alonzo Gaffney did not commit a turnover in 25 minutes of action.
- Five different Sun Devils reached double figures in the scoring column.
- The Maroon & Gold had a 42-27 edge in rebounds. All eight Sun Devils had at least three rebounds, including four with 6 or more boards.
- This led to 15 second-chance points for ASU compared to only two for Portland.
- ASU held Portland to only 25% (6-of-24) shooting from behind-the-arc and forced 21 Pilot turnovers.
- The Sun Devils move to 5-2 in season openers in the Bobby Hurley era.
- Bobby Hurley has led Arizona State to a 19-3 in November over the past four seasons.
- Enoch Boakye did not miss a shot (2-for-2) finishing with five points, six rebounds, and one block Sun Devil debut.