ASU pulls away from Tulane behind newcomers Graham, Evans
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Torian Graham scored 22 points and Shannon Evans II had 21 to lift Arizona State to an 80-71 victory over Tulane in the loser's bracket of the Tire Pros Invitational.
Sam Cunliffe scored 10 for the Sun Devils' who pulled away from Tulane in the final seven minutes to improve to 3-1. ASU lost its first game in the tournament by 19 points to Northern Iowa.
“We showed up ready to play today,” ASU Coach Bobby Hurley said. “I don't want to make excuses, but that game (Northern Iowa) wasn't our best effort. We were lethargic the whole time. I thought we were much more aggressive defensively and when a couple of shots fell, we settled down to play pretty good offensively.”
Tulane (1-3) got 22 points from Melvin Frazier Jr. and 17 from Cameron Reynolds, but the Green Wave offense fizzled in the final seven minutes when the game was still within reach.
“We had a nice run where we got defensive stops and were taking our time on offense,” Reynolds said. “But as soon as we started rushing things, we let them push it back at us and didn't defend like we should.”
ASU had an 11-point lead at halftime, but couldn't shake the Green Wave until late in the second half.
Tulane found some room taking the ball to the basket against ASU's man-to-man defense and cut their deficit to just 61-58 when Von Julien scored on a driving layup with 7:02 left in the game.
ASU center Ramon Villa woke up the Devils' offense with a follow-shot jam and Graham scored five straight points to push the lead back to a more comfortable 68-58 with just under five minutes left.
The Green Wave never got closer than seven the rest of the game.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were basically a no-show in its first game of the tournament, losing 82-63 to Northern Iowa, so the win over Tulane was a huge lift. “The game against Northern Iowa didn't feel good at all,” Graham said. “We were much better at executing today. It feels good to come back and get a victory after the way we played.”
Tulane: Green Wave coach Mike Dunleavy was impressed with his team's effort as well. “In that second half, we ran some nice sets, but they hit some shots at crucial times and that was the difference,” Dunleavy said. “Our guys played hard, but we missed some shots at the rim and they hit at the other end.”
THREE INSTEAD OF TWO
Tulane was six of 14 on 3-pointers in the first half, but only 2 of 9 from inside the arc. Cameron Reynolds, who missed his first five shots, hit three straight 3-pointers in a 2-minute stretch late in the half.
Arizona State will play Davidson Sunday in the fifth-place game.
Tulane, which has lost twice in the tournament, will play Missouri in the seventh-place game Sunday.
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