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ASU men's hoops blows out Coppin State to close non-conference schedule

What a difference a year makes.

Last season, the ASU men's basketball team won just 10 games total and the team’s offense played at a snaillike pace.

But after routing Coppin State 68-52 at home Dec. 29, the Sun Devils (11-2) eclipsed their win total from 2011-12, and they did so before conference play has even begun.

“For the most part, if you look back to the middle of November when we started, I think our guys have played good basketball,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said.  “Throughout the nonconference schedule, we really did a good job at focusing on the game at hand.”

Early on, it appeared as if the Eagles would be competitive for 40 minutes. Coppin State (3-11) drilled their early shots and led 21-17 with 6:30 remaining in the first half.

ASU redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson said playing against a smaller lineup posed problems early for ASU’s frontcourt. When junior center Jordan Bachynski got the ball in the post, Coppin State swarmed him. Bachynski turned the ball over twice in the first three minutes.

The Sun Devils tightened up their defense and became more efficient on offense. ASU went on a monstrous run that Coppin State couldn’t slow down until right before the game ended in garbage time. On three consecutive possessions after the Eagles led by four, the Sun Devils buried 3-pointers to lead by five.

Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling led the surge early, scoring 11 points and hitting three 3-pointers in the first half. Gilling finished with 14 points and also collected seven rebounds.

After making 14 3-pointers against Texas Tech last week, the Sun Devils made 10 against Coppin State. Gilling wasn’t the only Sun Devil knocking down the long-range perimeter shots. Evan Gordon made three, and three other Sun Devils connected from downtown.

ASU closed the first half on a 20-5 run, pushing their lead to 11. In the second half, the Sun Devils continued their run and the rout was on. After trailing by four, ASU went on a 49-20 run spanning 22 minutes to put the Sun Devils  ahead comfortably.

Both teams relied heavily on the three-ball to spark their respective offenses. Coppin State took 60 field goals – 31 of which were from three, while the Sun Devils took 30 of their 53 shots from downtown.

ASU’s first 11 field goals were assisted on with Carson distributing the ball evenly around the court. The Sun Devils made seven of 14 3-pointers in the first half.

Carson led all scorers with 15 points, even while being held scoreless until the final minute of the first half. He contributed elsewhere in the first half with six assists and six rebounds in the half. In the second half, Carson took over the game in the second by scoring 13.

Entering Saturday’s game, Coppin State had shot 36.4 percent from the floor, ranking 341st out of 347 schools in Division I. The Eagles took a slew of erratic, highly-contested shots. 10 of their shots were blocked, five by Bachynski.

Senior wing Carrick Felix played through the intestinal flu, while Bachynski played 23 minutes after suffering an ankle injury last weekagainst Texas Tech.

ASU begins conference play Jan. 2 at home against Utah.

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