In a game that saw ASU and Kansas State go shot-for-shot Thursday, seemingly trading buckets as they threw up pointers like they were going out of style, it was on the free throw line that the Devils really beat KSU.
The Wildcats (4-1) shot 58 percent, 4 percent better than the Devils, while hitting seven more shots then ASU (5-0).
But the Devils 44-9 advantage advantage in attempts from the charity stripe proved to be just enough for them to walk out of Orleans Arena in Vegas with a 92-90 Thanksgiving evening victory.
The Devils knocked down only 29 of those 44 shots, a measly 65.9 percent, but in the process, several Wildcats found themselves in foul trouble.
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Two KSU players fouled out and another pair finished the contest with four — all tallied up, Kansas State got called for 32 fouls — many coming in the midst of a Romello White or De’Quon Lake ‘and one’.
The lethal frontcourt duo made their presence know early and often, bulling the K-State big men en route to 32 points in the paint. The pair also combined for 30 points and 16 of the Sun Devils’ 29 rebounds.
Their effort was admirable, but Thursday belonged ASU guard Kodi Justice.
The senior went 9-10 from the field, 4-4 from behind the arc and 7-15 from the line in an effort that gave him a career-high 28 points. That number is great, but the fashion in which he did it was what made it special.
All of his shots seemed to be highly contested, multiple K-State hands flurried to get in front of his shot, but Justice was stepping into his threes from what looked like 25 feet away.
And when he wasn’t doing his best Jimmer Fredette impersonation, Justice was getting to the rim, including this beauty that tied the game in the second half:
Justice was a major key to the Devils’ resiliency as they hung with, fought back and eventually pulled ahead of KSU.
ASU never trailed by more then four in the first half, but a two-point halftime deficit quickly turned into a nine-point Wildcat lead less than two minutes into the second half.
ASU then managed to go on a 13-7 run, including eight points from Justice, tied the game and from there the Sun Devils never trailed again.
They did, however, have to hold off the Wildcats right up until the buzzer.
After ASU guard Remy Martin missed one of two free throws with under five seconds remaining KSU’s Barry Brown Jr. sprinted up the court and put up a layup that went just a little too high of the glass, bouncing off the front of the rim.
The 92 points that proved to be just enough for the Sun Devils has now given the Devils 90 points in every game, showing just how dominant the Devils can be offensively, especially when noting that Kansas St. hadn’t given up more then 58 points this season.
Arizona State will face an even tougher test Friday when they face off against No. 15 Xavier as part of the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational.