Sun Devils clamp down, crush Cal
Arizona State followed its first Pac-12 victory with a resounding one.
The Sun Devils dominated California for the final 35 minutes in a 79-44 rout at Haas Pavilion on Thursday night, using a 22-0 run to cruise to a victory that featured more accurate 3-point shooting, strong contributions from the bench and a defense that took perimeter-oriented Cal out of its offense.
Reserve guard Bo Barnes tied a career-high with 17 points in 17 minutes, reprising the key role he played in a 78-72 victory over Colorado on Saturday, and freshman reserve Kodi Justice had a season-high 16 in 23 minutes.
The Sun Devils (10-9, 2-4 Pac-12) posted their second-largest victory in Pac-12/Pac-10 history, the only greater a 91-55 victory at Cal on Feb. 2, 1979. They hardly looked like the team that lost its first four conference games, appearing more than capable of fighting for a spot in the upper tier.
Cal went 13 minutes, two seconds without scoring in the first half, a stretch during which the Sun Devils forced the Golden Bears into contested shots they were more than willing to take.
Cal (11-8, 1-5) lost its fifth in a row.
"Our defense was great," Barnes said in a radio interview. "When we play defense like that, we are going to be really tough to beat."
"It’s definitely a confidence-builder when you can get back-to-back wins," Barnes said. "The key has been our defense. The last two games it’s been much improved. They only had 10 points until about five minutes left in the first half, which was huge for us."
Eric Jacobsen and Savon Goodman had nine points apiece as the Sun Devils took a 30-point lead midway through the second half and kept rolling. Shaquille McKissic had two points but keyed a defense with four steals and four rebounds.
The Sun Devils shot 48.1 percent from the field, made 10-of-21 3-pointers and outrebounded the Bears 35-29. Cal had 19 turnovers, almost twice as many as its season average. ASU had 27 points off turnovers.
The Sun Devils committed just 11 turnovers, four fewer than their season average, and had only two in the first half.
Justice made all four of his 3-point attempts and Barnes was 2-for-4.
"Our team has been getting better and has been improving," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "They are a group that does things the right way and they stay the course."
Cal guard Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 17 points a game at the start of the night, did not have a field goal in 33 minutes, scoring all seven of his points at the foul line. Gerry Blakes, McKissic and Barnes defended Wallace for most of the game.
ASU played without junior guard Roosevelt Scott, who was not on the trip because of a violation of team rules, but coach Herb Sendek used point guards Tra Holder and Justice in tandem quite a bit in the first half, and Chance Murray also had some time at the end of the first half, scoring the final two baskets for a 34-13 halftime lead.
The Sun Devil will finish a difficult stretch of five road games in their first seven in conference play at Stanford on Saturday night.
Thursday’s game was tied at 10 before the Sun Devils commenced their game-deciding roll that began with a Jacobsen 4-footer with 14:08 remaining in the first half. Jonathan Gilling assisted on that basket, and the next one, after entering at 14:44. Gilling had five points, five rebounds and two assists.
Barnes tipped in a McKissic miss, Justice made a 12-footer in the lane and two free throws, and the lead was 10 at 10:46. The run continued on 3-pointers by Barnes and Holder as Cal’s drought reached eight minutes, 15 seconds.
By the time Justice hit another 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 30-10, there had been as many media timeouts (three) as Golden Bears baskets. David Kravish’s layup with 1:37 remaining in the first half broke a 22-0 run, their Bears first basket in 13 minutes and 24 seconds. Cal missed 12 field goal attempts and the front end of two one-and-one free throw opportunities while committing six turnovers in that stretch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.