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Men’s hoops defeats Hartford 71-63, improves to 7-1

Redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson splits two defenders during the Sun Devils’ 71-63 win over Hartford on Wednesday.
Redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson splits two defenders during the Sun Devils’ 71-63 win over Hartford on Wednesday.

Redshirt freshman guard Jahii Carson splits two defenders during the Sun Devils’ 71-63 win over Hartford on Wednesday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

ASU men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek isn’t inclined to give freshmen minutes down the stretch.

If the name isn’t James Harden or redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson, Sendek will go down the chain of command ranked by seniority.

True freshman forward Eric Jacobsen became a rare exception Wednesday during ASU’s (7-1) 71-63 win over Hartford. He scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. Jacobsen played the final 14:50 in the game over junior center Jordan Bachynski.

“I think he stepped up and stepped up big,” Carson said. “He’s physical down low. He’s proved that in every single game and tonight, I think he took advantage of the mismatches he had down low, and us guards are going to try to find him down low and capitalize.”

It was hard to keep him off the floor with the way he performed in the second half. He scored 13 of his 16 points during the last 14:50 stretch in the second half. It's the second game where Jacobsen was a spark off the bench. He scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in 16 minutes against Sacramento State Saturday.

“Coach just keeps the guys who are rolling and playing good,” Jacobsen said. “I guess tonight, I was that guy.”

ASU led 36-35 despite its advantage in nearly every statistical category. The Sun Devils shot 62.5 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Hawks (4-4) by four and scored 16 points in the paint.

The biggest issue for the Sun Devils was defending the perimeter, which kept the Hawks in the game. Hartford shot 50 percent from the floor and was 6-for-16 on 3-point attempts in the first half. Sophomore forward Nate Sikma scored nine of his 13 points in the first half on three-pointers. The son of former NBA forward Jack Sikma finished with a game-high 26 points.

“He got going right away,” Sendek said. “He played a heck of a game, and he did a great job of taking advantage of the matchup.”

The Hawks spread the floor similar to Sacramento State Saturday, utilizing their undersized roster to create possible matchup problems in the frontcourt. Bachynski did a better job attacking the mismatch during the first half. He scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting and grabbed three boards in the first half.

Jacobsen subbed in for Bachynski during an ASU timeout down 47-43. Sendek said Jacobsen is multi-dimensional on defense and versatile with his ability to guard undersized teams. With the tallest player on the Hawks roster listed at 6-foot-8, Jacobsen can guard on the perimeter and in the post. The Sun Devils held the Hawks to 29 percent from the floor in the second half.

“We just had a greater sense of urgency,” Sendek said. “I think we got rib-shotted once we realized how they moved the ball and how they cut. I don’t know if we just didn’t get uppercut because that ball moves from side to side and it goes in the post, and they post to pass. Once they reverse it three times, they do a great job of driving it and spacing it.”

Jacobsen also allows the Sun Devils to run their offense given his size advantage. Carson was able to find Jacobsen in the paint on consecutive possession, which resulted in 3-point play opportunities. Carson had another 20-point performance on 9-of-12 shooting. He also added five rebounds, seven assists and just two turnovers. The Sun Devils committed only 10 turnovers in the game.

“He has that ability to turn it up,” Sendek said. “He has that other gear. He was 9-of-12 again tonight and maybe more impressive is his 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. That’s probably for me is the biggest gem on his stat line.”

Senior wing Carrick Felix continued his impressive start this season with his second career double-double. The Pac-12 Player of the Week had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“I know there have been guys who give great effort, but it’s hard to think right now of a guy who every possession, offensively and defensively, is giving the kind of effort that Carrick is,” Sendek said. “He is laying his heart out. He’s fun to watch and he’s easy to cheer for.”

The Sun Devils will look to extend their three-game winning streak Saturday against Cal State Northridge. Tip-off is at noon on the Pac-12 Network and 860 AM.


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