Holder, Sun Devils down Mustangs with hot second half
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Four-guard starting lineups aren't normal for Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley. He never used such a unit while head coach at Buffalo for two seasons.
But Sunday night's smaller lineup got the job done for the Sun Devils and their second-year head coach.
Tra Holder scored 24 points, his second straight 20-point game, and Shannon Evans II added 20 points, 12 of those on 12 free throw attempts. The Sun Devils rode a hot second half to a 96-74 win over Cal Poly.
Another guard, Torian Graham, scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, and forward Obinna Oleka added 17 points to go with 13 rebounds. The Sun Devils (2-0) outscored the Mustangs 57-36 in the second 20 minutes after a tight first half.
ASU made 18 of 30 (60 percent) second-half shots after struggling in the first half.
''As these guys (big men) develop, we can get more conventional, and we will play a more conventional lineup,'' Hurley said. ''But it's nice when you have guys on the perimeter that are as good as they are because I've got to get those guys on the floor.''
Kyle Toth made 5 of 8 from 3-point range and led Cal Poly with 21 points. Josh Martin added 17 points.
The Mustangs (0-2) led by as many as five points early in the second half, 48-43 on a Jaylen Shead driving layup against three defenders with 16:26 to play. The Sun Devils then went on a 10-3 run to take the lead.
''I think we wore down a little bit mentally and emotional as it continued,'' Mustangs coach Joe Callero said. ''They were able to really drive, and to get to the free throw line 42 times, that's a credit to their aggressiveness.''
ASU led by as many as 24. Evans sank two free throws to make the score 74-62 with 6:41 to play, and the Sun Devils scored 12 unanswered points over four minutes toward the end of the game.
''We were trying to stay aggressive. I felt like I couldn't get my shot going for us,'' Evans said. ''I knew that getting to the line would get me going. At halftime we talked about picking the ball up, pressuring it and playing defense with energy.''
Cal Poly trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half before rallying to tie the score at 36 on Martin's reverse layup with 3:02 left in the half. The Mustangs took a 38-36 lead on their next possession, as Martin threw down a dunk off Ridge Shipley's assist.
ASU went the last 5:21 of the first half without a field goal and led 39-38 at halftime only because Holder made one of two free throws with 44 seconds to go before Cal Poly let the shot clock expire at the other end.
Cal Poly shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, including 7 of 17 from 3-point range. ASU made five fewer shots, going 10 for 25 in the first 20 minutes to help keep the Mustangs in the game.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: ASU got to the foul line 20 more times than Cal Poly. The Mustangs were 12 of 22 while the Sun Devils made 33 of 42, 27 of those makes from Evans, Holder and Oleka.
HIGHLIGHT REEL: Back-to-back dunks on consecutive Sun Devil possessions by Graham ignited the crowd and the ASU comeback from a five-point deficit early in the second half.
TURNING POINT: After Graham's jams, Holder dished to Kodi Justice for a 3 with 14:51 to play, giving ASU a 53-51 lead. The Sun Devils never trailed after that.
Cal Poly: After losses to a pair of Division I programs, including Pepperdine on Friday, the Mustangs get a shot at their first win of the season with their next two games at home against lower-division teams. Cal Poly faces California State-Dominguez Hills and Bethesda this week. Since joining Division I for the 1994-95 season, the Mustangs are 34-1 against non-Division I programs.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils got wins in their first two games, now they will be tested. ASU will travel 12,900 miles for games and sleep in a hotel 11 of 25 nights between Nov. 16 and Dec. 10.
Cal Poly seeks its first win Thursday in its home opener against CSU-Dominguez Hills.
Arizona State hits the road for its first trip of the season and takes on Northern Iowa on Thursday in Orlando.