Men’s Hoops Gets Another Close Win, Tops GCU 67-62
The Arizona State men's hoops squad won the opening tipoff against Grand Canyon University, and didn't look back after opening up the game on a 6-0 run in a 67-62 defeat of the 2021 WAC Champion GCU Antelopes, as ASU improved to 4-6 on the season.
After an overtime victory against Oregon on Sunday, head coach Bobby Hurley noted his team's performance, "That was a gutsy win. I thought we got out of the gate well which was nice to see."
In a game where the Sun Devils never trailed, four Sun Devil scorers were in double figures, and got it done on both ends of the floor, including Kimani Lawrence, who recorded a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. The all-around effort was impressive from start to finish, and defensively, ASU notched 11 forced turnovers and 13 blocks, matching the most in school history.
Kimani's leading stat line for the Sun Devils earned praise from Bobby Hurley, "He's really efficient, he doesn't do things he's not capable of doing, he was a rock for us tonight in this game."
GET OUTTA HERE.
5 blocks so far tonight ??
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) December 10, 2021
The 13 blocks tied a program high, and Coach Hurley credits the win to the defense, "Overall I think the blocks were significant; our length around the basket and our ability to alter and block those shots, 13 of them, and then the free throws and get those percentages. That was really the difference for us tonight."
A strong defensive stand for ASU after an early forced turnover and two quick buckets gave the Sun Devils the early 6-0 lead to start the game off. Luther Muhammad's early block and a quick fadeaway from DJ Horne put the Devils up 8-2 and GCU was forced to take their first timeout.
hand in his face, doesn't matter.
— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) December 10, 2021
Now, stop us if you've heard this before. DJ Horne banked a three (shocker) to put ASU up by nine, and Jalen Graham's soft touch on the midrange shot extended the lead to 11. The 6-0 run wasn't even the best part though, as the Sun Devil defense held the Lopes scoreless for over four minutes.
GCU put up a run of their own, but Luther Muhammad's and-one put a stop to that. The two teams traded buckets down the stretch of the first half, and despite the fact that Sun Devils were called for 11 fouls at the half, the gritty scoring effort, and buzzer-beating jumper from Marreon Jackson, gave Arizona State the 33-24 lead. GCU's 24 points was their second lowest total at the half all season after posting just 18 points in their game against Wyoming.
The Lopes opened the half with back-to-back baskets which prompted an ASU timeout.
Something clicked in that huddle, and the Sun Devils held GCU scoreless on the next 10 field goals and managed to extend the lead back to 11 off of a 7-0 run with key buckets from Marreon Jackson and Kimani Lawrence. GCU's 12-2 run pulled the game within one, and ASU stopped the bleeding with Kimani Lawrence's layup and never looked back.
DJ Horne's dagger three put ASU up by two possessions with five minutes to go, followed by the Lopes' Taeshon Cherry who fouled out.
The pesky Lopes wouldn't go away, and despite ASU's nine point lead with 2:39 remaining, GCU was 3-4 on their final shots of the game and provided some great practice at the line for ASU who nailed all eight free throws in the back-and-forth final 30 seconds of the game to seal the 67-62 dub.
PAC-12 TWO POSSESSION GAMES (2019-21):
Oregon, 15-5 (.750)
UCLA, 18-6 (.750)
Arizona State, 19-9 (.679)
11,391 fans were in attendance to witness ASU defend home court, and DJ Horne noted the energy in the stands, "That helped us stay locked in in the game because we knew that their fans were going to come out."
LOWEST FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE IN AN ASU WIN (1996-97 TO PRESENT)
.286/16-56 at Arizona (53-47 on Jan. 21, 2009)
.302/19-63 vs. Mercer (59-42 on Dec. 20, 2000)
.311/19-61 vs. Grand Canyon (67-62 on Dec. 9, 2021)
.313/21-67 vs. USC (66-64 on Feb. 8, 2020)
.328/19-58 vs. USC (64-59 on Feb. 22, 2015)
- DJ Horne and Kimani Lawrence led the Sun Devils in scoring with 14 points a piece.
- ASU is 2-0 against GCU in their only two meetings.
- Bobby Hurley got 150th career win as head coach.
- 13 blocks ties the school record. Jalen Graham, Kimani Lawrence, and Alonzo Gaffney each recorded three blocks.
- Marreon shot 8-8 on his FT, it's not a big deal though because he was eighth best in the country in FT%.
- Jay Heath was 9-10 from the line tonight.
KIMANI LAWRENCE CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLES (7)
14/14 vs. Grand Canyon (12/9/21)
11/13 vs. Syracuse (11/25/21)
14/12 at San Diego State (11/18/21)
19/12 vs. UC Riverside (11/11/21)
19/10 vs. Portland (11/9/21)
21/20 vs. Washington (2/25/21)
22/12 vs. Washington (2/23/21)
Head Coach Bobby Hurley
"That was a gutsy win. I thought we got out of the gate well which was nice to see. Having a 9 point lead at halftime was a different place for us, we haven't had many like that this year, so it was a good feeling to have a team chasing us. Overall I think the blocks were significant; our length around the basket and our ability to alter and block those shots, 13 of them, and then the free throws and get those percentages. That was really the difference for us tonight."
On plans to increase blocks tonight:
"It was part of our game plan. We knew Jovan Blacksher Jr. was really good at going off the dribble and getting by guys, and Holland (Woods) the same thing. So we wanted to have guys that were challenging those shots and those were big momentum plays. Gaffney, that's just who he is. He has the timing, his length, and how quick he jumps, it's like he could just get to those shots. JG did well and Kimani had a great block, he had a really good game obviously 14 and 14 and made that big shot in the paint down the stretch when the clock was winding down."
On defense going forward:
"I think we've been pretty good other than the Loyola Chicago game and that's probably it. Otherwise we've been pretty good defensively all year. Our offense has to get better, and I hope it does, and guys I know who can get shots up start doing it with more regularity. 3 for 20 from 3 and 31% is crazy that you can win a game like that against a good team."
On what GCU did to cause the struggle on offense:
"I mean we had to take a few bombs because we were against the shot clock, Mar had to shoot a 30 footer, so there was a couple of those. But there were still some good ones out there. We just have to step into them and make those types of shots."
On getting more comfortable on offense:
"There were some moments. I liked Jay Heath getting to the foul line, he really has the ability to do that. So, there are some things that I like. And then we got to get a little more work on the blocks and in the paint, getting the ball inside a touch more, and getting some easier baskets to take the pressure off. Also I think getting stops and our transitions especially in the first half. I think we had 14 points off turnovers, so that was nice that our defense could take some pressure off of our offense."
On atmosphere in DFA tonight and developing the cross town rivalry:
"I thought it was a fun game to be a part of. It was a lively building, I think our fans showed up. It was terrific to see that kind of support you know in a season where we've had some tough outcomes. But to see our crowd with that type of life and that kind of response tonight was great. I think it was great for the kids to play in that environment."
On sloppiness in the first half:
"I can't speak to them. We started well, I think we were up 16-5 early in the game, so we got off to the start we wanted to get off. We lost Holland a couple times and he had a couple shots that got them back into the game. Overall, it was a defensive oriented game, and their stats are very good defensively so we figured it would be that type of game."
On Kimani's performances this season:
"I'm just happy for him. He's a kid that works extremely hard and he's extremely loyal to the program. He really has grown to just know who he is as a basketball player. He's really efficient, he doesn't do things he's not capable of doing, he was a rock for us tonight in this game."
On Marreon's full capabilities:
"If you've noticed, he's got his wrist taped and we haven't really talked that much about it. He's been fighting through it and it's starting to get a little better, and I think he's getting a little more comfortable with that. If you can imagine being a right-handed player and that wrist you need to dribble, pass, and shoot so as a point guard it's an issue. But he's a tough kid and he's playing through it and hopefully that will continue to get better. But he's still done some great things, I mean he closed the game out at the foul line. He never really, realistically, gave Grand Canyon a chance to cut the lead to the point where they had a legitimate chance to win."
On matching GCU's ability to rebound:
"I thought we did better in the first half at keeping them off of the backboard. And we know Grand Canyon is a really good offensive rebounding team. I didn't like how we started the second half. They got an offensive rebound on a free throw which led to points, and we just didn't get out of the gate quick. And then they took a lot of threes, so there were a lot of long rebounds and everyone's got to get in there and secure the ball. So we've got to do a better job of our defensive backboard."
On interaction with Woods and Cherry postgame:
"It was everything I thought it would be. You're conflicted on how you feel because again you've had so many games with those guys. Holland and I got a chance to talk before the game briefly. He's a warrior, he did everything he could to try to win the game for his team. I'm not surprised, that kid's got a lot of guts. He fought side by side with me last year through one of the toughest years in the history of sports, especially if you're not doing well and going through COVID, and that kid just showed up every day and fought. I hope he has all the success that he could have this year."
On playing against kid's he's coached:
"I was waiting for the other shoe to drop with those guys and the revenge and hitting a big three or a timely shot. Taeshon I think took two charges so I remember him doing that for us when he played here. He was probably on the floor ten times at least just with that type of hustle he has. And then Holland was just dialed in. I know he wanted to have as good of a game as he could possibly have, and I would expect nothing less from him."
Sophomore Guard, DJ Horne:
On feeling like a Sun Devil:
"After a win like tonight, it shows you why you come here and play basketball. We definitely had a great showing from the fans tonight. I feel like this is something that they can look forward to the rest of this season: more wins. It can't get any better than that."
Key factors in the win:
"I felt like we were really focused, coaches and players included. We had a good game plan coming into this game and we executed."
On the defense and blocks:
"I knew that that was part of our game plan coming in. Some of the guys on their team weren't really good shooters, so the fact that we were focused enough to pack in the paint and get blocked shots just shows that the guys were locked in tonight."
On the momentum after tonight:
"Definitely good momentum. I feel like there is a lot that we can take from these two wins and build moving forward with the season and to also know that it got bad, and it can get bad like that again if we don't stay focused. We're trying to keep that same focus that we've had in the past two games."
On the atmosphere:
"Not like this. I know the seats that they brought up there was not their student section, so for them to make their own student section, that was something else. I knew it was going to be a good game, with a good crowd. There was a lot behind it, and I am just glad that we were able to come out on top."
On dealing with the GCU crowd:
"Going into the game, we treated it as an away game. That helped us stay locked in in the game because we knew that their fans were going to come out. We saw the tweets and everything about them trying to come out and sell out our arena, so we tried to treat it as a road game and do everything the same way we went into Oregon and try to repeat that same focus and mindset that we had."
Graduate Forward, Kimani Lawrence:
On his 14 rebounds:
"It helped me stay involved in the game. I missed a couple of shots early on and I was just able to affect the game in different ways. It helped a lot."
On the locker room:
"It's really good right now. We have our confidence as a team. Things are starting to click a little bit, and there are still some things for us to work on, but we're getting better and building every day."
On the beginning:
"A lot of things were going into the game. A lot of hype. That was our biggest crowd– my biggest crowd that I have been a part of in two years. I was even a little jittery early on, and I know the other guys were."
On the Oregon win carrying over:
"We watched the film and we got a lot of good things from that game and worked on the things that we needed to work on, but overall, that win felt like it was a turning point on our season for us. It was a big one we needed to get, and a historic win for ASU. Especially going to Oregon and winning on the road."
On keeping the momentum going:
"We just keep attacking every game the same way we've been attacking them. When we win, we try to protect everything that we were doing going into the game. We have the same routine going right now, we just keep getting better. We can't get complacent and content with these two wins. We just have to keep stringing them along."
On the turning point before conference play:
"Really important. It was going to happen eventually. I didn't think we were going to keep losing the way we were losing. We lost a lot of close ones, but it is definitely important to get some momentum going into conference play. We have a tough league. We have tough games coming up ahead of us. That was big for us."
On relying on the defense:
"We have been in a lot of close games like this so far. We haven't really been shooting it well offensively, so we have been relying on our defense. When the offense clicks and we have both of the things (defense) going, we are going to be a really good team."
On playing with confidence:
"It means a lot to me to be able to come here and do that. Coming in as a freshman, there was a lot of hype behind me and injuries… whatever happened I fell short a little bit. I'm glad to turn it around and show the fans the Kimani Lawrence that they were expecting a while ago."