NIT: Sun Devils Knock Off Huskies In Opener


The Sun Devils may have had a disappointing finish in the Pac-12 Tournament, but you wouldn’t have known that on Wednesday night in their NIT opener against the UCONN Huskies.

Arizona State off to a great start in the first half and were able to hold off the defending champs in the final minutes and win 68-61.

This game was won largely in the first half. ASU got off to a fast start in the first 20 minutes of the game, outscoring UCONN by a 37-24 margin.

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The second half told a much different story. The home team woke up and nearly pulled out a victory with their best player Ryan Boatright on the sidelines. The Huskies got within three points in the final minutes, but didn’t get any closer as ASU closed out the game on a 9-2 run. 

It was a very balanced scoring attack from the road team. Senior Shaquielle McKissic led all scorers with 22 points. He also chipped with five rebounds and three steals.

Three other Sun Devils players finished with double-digit point totals; Savon Goodman, Eric Jacobsen and Gerry Blakes. Goodman just missed out on a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.

With their season continuing on for at least one more game, the Sun Devils will next play the Richmond Spiders on their home floor. The time and date of the game will soon be announced.

Now, onto the good and the bad from this one.

The Good

Yes, I know it’s the NIT and not the NCAA Tournament, but this was a really good win. Anytime you can beat the defending champs on their home floor, even if they were without their best player, that is something for your program to build on. Very nice victory.

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It’s really a shame that McKissic has no years of eligibility remaining because he’s an extremely fun player to watch. He was huge down the stretch, making a couple of baskets that helped put the game away. His leadership and timely shot making will certainly be missed next year.

It was a hell of a shooting night for the Devils. They shot just under 52 percent from the field to be exact, including going 7-of-17 from three-point land. You are going to win a lot of games when you are making shots at that high of a clip.

ASU’s frontline isn’t as big as a lot of teams throughout the country, so on most nights, they have to rebound by committee. They did an excellent job of doing that this evening. Goodman led in rebounding with nine boards, but three other guys had 4+ rebounds, which included Tra Holder, the smallest guy on the floor.

The Bad

ASU did a real poor job of taking care of taking care of the ball in the second half, which was one of the main reasons why UCONN got back into the ballgame. The Devils had 10 turnovers in the final 20 minutes. It’s tough to win on the road doing that, but luckily ASU was able to build a big lead in the first half.

The bench was pretty much non-existent in this one. Jonathan Gilling and Bo Barnes had three points each to combine for six points and that was it. Then again, with how good the starters were tonight, it really didn’t matter.

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