In the world of sports punditry, some have likened Arizona State freshman point guard Jahii Carson to a shooting star: fast, illuminant and always on the move. Catch him if, and when, you can.
All analogies aside, Carson has left a lasting impression — like a celestial event — during his rookie season at ASU. The 5-10, 175-pound phenom from Mesa, Ariz., has put the Pac-12 conference on notice with his slashing style of play, high basketball IQ, and ability to distribute the ball to a talented group of Sun Devil teammates.
Last night in Pullman, Wash., Carson led ASU to a 63-59 win over Washington State with a performance demonstrating his ability to take over games when the outcome is on the line. Carson scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, and helped the Sun Devils notch their third straight victory.
Arizona State now stands at 17-4, 6-2 Pac-12, and is firmly in the hunt for the conference title.
ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek shook his head and smiled when describing Carson’s outing against the Cougars. “He is impressive, for a freshman to have that kind of composure down the stretch after struggling in the first half is something,” said Sendek.
Carson and senior wing Carrick Felix were the go-to players for the Sun Devils in the second period, scoring all but five of the team’s points after the break, when Washington State led 28-24.
Late in the contest, with the score tied at 58, Carson made a layup and was fouled by WSU forward Brock Motum. He then buried the free throw to give ASU a 61-58 lead. Carson’s final basket with 16 seconds remaining sealed the victory; he made six of his last seven shots and finished 10 of 19.
The freshman had an uncharacteristically quiet start to his evening, making just 2 of 8 shots. The reason? “I just got used to their (Washington State) defense, I got used to the court and I just kept trying to shoot with confidence,” Carson noted. “I started to be more focused in the second half and attack the paint.”
Arizona State now travels to Seattle for a pivotal Saturday matchup with the Washington Huskies, who will try to recover from a 57-53 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats.