Jahii Carson and Shaquielle McKissic on Friday showed the kind of resilience that could make Arizona State something special. It helped the Sun Devils make short work of DePaul.
Carson, who did not practice at all this week because of a sprained right ankle, had a game-high 23 points and was one rebound short of his second career double-double in a decisive 78-56 victory against the Blue Demons at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Carson suffered the sprain late in the first half of a 60-57 loss to Miami in the Wooden Legacy on Sunday and was bothered the rest of that game, but he looked like his old self Friday, even if he was not at full strength.
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“I’m telling you, Jahii didn’t do anything except rehab until yesterday,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said in a postgame radio interview. “Yesterday he made it part-way through practice. (Friday) morning after breakfast, he was pretty sure he was going to give it a try, but we still weren’t 100 percent positive.
“For him not to be 100 percent and come out and basically play the whole game … and handle the ball like he does so brilliantly for us, just another great testament to his outstanding ability as a young player.”
Carson played the first 38 minutes and four seconds before leaving, shooting 9-of-16 from the field while adding five assists and a steal. Carson is the only Division I player averaging 20 points (20.5), five assists (5.1) and shooting better than 50 percent (51 percent) from the field.
Senior transfer McKissic, an athletic small forward, had a different hill to climb Friday. After starting the first four games, McKissic was moved to a reserve role and he did not play against Miami — the first time in his career.
His first ASU double-double: 14 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. He also added two assists and did not commit a turnover, continuing his remarkable floor play. McKissic has only one turnover in 181 minutes this season, and his strong play off the bench in the first half led to start in the second half. It gives Sendek options as he considers a lineup for the Grambling State game a week from Saturday.
“A great story line for our team, because as soon as Sunday’s game ended, he responded immediately with our next practice,” Sendek said. “He did not so much as blink. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. We talked about some things he needed, and he went out and player his best game at Arizona State.”
The Sun Devils (8-2) jumped to a 14-3 lead in a game they needed to win after losing two of three at the Wooden Legacy, and DePaul tied the game only once thereafter, at 14. It was 39-34 four minutes into the second half before ASU went on a decisive 17-2 run.
Jermaine Marshall (20 points, five assists) had eight points during that run, making both of his 3-pointers, and McKissic had four points. Jonathan Gilling (12 points, six assists) made one of his four 3-pointers, and Eric Jacobsen had a layup to end it. ASU led, 56-36, while holding DePaul without a field goal for 6:34.
DePaul (4-4) shot 58 percent from the field to beat Oregon State 91-82 on Sunday, but playing without leading scorer Brandon Young and shot only 29.2 percent from the field and were 2-of-17 from 3-point range.
ASU stuck tight to the Blue Demon shooters on the perimeter, forcing them to take contested shots and relying on 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski to prowl the paint. Bachynski had eight blocked shots top go with three points and five rebounds.
“His presence at the basket saves us time and again. It wasn’t his best game, but he had a big impact on the outcome,” said Sendek, noting that the blocked shots are only part of Bachynski’s impact.
“And how many more does he psychologically affect because of his presence. Maybe the arc is a little bit off because someone is trying to get it over him. He may not block it, but he changes the trajectory, and it results in a miss.”