TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Jahii Carson had 19 points and five assists to open his final season in the desert, helping Arizona State roll to a 96-61 victory over Maryland-Baltimore County on Friday night.
Carson has said his sophomore season will be his last at Arizona State, and he was certainly ready for the opening act, blowing past the Retrievers to get into the lane for layups and kickouts to open shooters.
The Sun Devils were a little off-kilter at times in their opener, but they were good enough against UMBC, using a 12-0 run midway through the first half to blow open what started out as a tight game.
Jermaine Marshall also had 19 points, and Jordan Bachynski added 12 to go along with 15 rebounds for Arizona State.
Brett Roseboro and Rodney Elliott had 12 points to lead UMBC.
Carson lived up to a mountain of expectations during a stellar first season in Tempe, leading ASU in scoring and assists while setting numerous freshman records in 2012-13. The one thing he couldn’t do was lead the Sun Devils to the NCAA tournament despite a 22-win season.
That hole in his resume was one of the main reasons Carson decided to return for one more season before heading off the NBA.
UMBC didn’t figure to be much of a gauge for Carson and Arizona State; the Retrievers won eight games last season and have eight newcomers.
Of course, the Sun Devils also eight newcomers, though most of theirs were a little more established, led by Marshall.
Penn State’s second-leading scorer last season, he was expected to give Arizona State a veteran presence, good perimeter shooting and a great tag-team partner with Carson.
Marshall was hampered by a minor injury and Valley Fever during the preseason, but was in the starting lineup for the opener.
He certainly looked fine playing alongside Carson against UMBC.
After a somewhat sluggish start by the Sun Devils, Carson scored his first basket on a difficult up-and-under, then got into the lane to set up Marshall for a 3-pointer in the corner. Marshall had a steal on the next possession to set up Carson for a 3 in transition, then scored on a pair of hard drives to the basket.
Marshall added to it late in the half, dropping in his second 3-pointer in transition to put the Sun Devils up 41-22.
Carson did what does best on Arizona State’s last possession of the half, dribbling one way, reversing his course and flipping up a one-handed runner off the glass to make it 45-28.
Carson had 11 points, Bachynski 10 and Marshall nine in the first half.
UMBC tried to chip away at the lead a couple times in the second half, but Carson had an answer most of the time, including consecutive acrobatic drives to the basket in the early going and a kickout to set up Marshall for a 3 midway through.
Arizona State put it completely out of reach with an 11-0 run that made it 73-49.