ASU men's basketball pulls away from UC Irvine

Tra Holder puts on a 35-point performance at home to guide ASU to victory

ASU kept its foot on the gas pedal on Sunday afternoon after defeating UC Irvine 99-78 at home. 

First Half

The Sun Devils got off to a fast and balanced start in the first half, making plays on both ends of the court. 

Senior guard Tra Holder set the tone offensively for ASU with 11 quick points in the first 10 minutes of the game. He was actively trying to find his shot, inside and out, and took advantage of UC Irvine’s defensive miscues. He finished the half with 19 points and only missed one shot, while shooting 4-of-5 from three. 

A pair of steals and blocks helped ASU start what developed to be a 20-2 run over five minutes to give them the early 22-6 lead. The Sun Devils forced the Anteaters to commit 10 turnovers in the first half, which they converted into 16 points. 

The visiting team did not back down, however, as they made 5-of-7 field goals in a span of five minutes to keep the game within reach. Sophomore forward Tommy Rutherford mixed it up for the Anteaters in the first half by stepping out to hit a three and using his soft touch in the paint. He finished the half with 12 points, nine of them coming from inside.

As the momentum looked to shift to UC Irvine, Holder made sure to keep it on ASU’s side by nailing a buzzer beater from three at the end of the first half. The Sun Devils led 56-38. 

Second Half

ASU senior guard Shannon Evans II began the half with a no-look pass to redshirt freshman forward Romello White, which he then dunked over his defender to get the crowd on its feet. Evans finished the game with 22 points. 

Once again, UC Irvine did not let down. Redshirt sophomore guard Max Hazzard made a pair of three pointers in the first two minutes of the half, which were then followed by threes from sophomore guards Eyassu Worku and Evan Leonard

This was the narrative for most of the game. Every time ASU would show potential for pulling away, the Anteaters would answer with outside jumpers, specifically from Leonard, who was 3-for-5 from long range. The visiting team came within 12 points with six minutes left in the game. 

However, ASU’s defense and Holder’s offensive prowess were too much for the Anteaters to come any closer than 12 points. Holder continued his balanced approach offensively, stepping out to knock down outside jumpers himself or beating his defender off the dribble to make a shot inside. 

The senior guard missed only one shot the entire second half and finished the game with 35 points. 

Up Next

ASU will travel to Las Vegas to square off against Kansas State in the Continental Tire Invitational on Friday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 pm.

Reach the reporter at or follow @felipecorraljr on Twitter.  

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