ASU Basketball: Sun Devils put on a clinic against Pacific, finish non-conference 12-0

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 17: Remy Martin
TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 17: Remy Martin /

After ASU basketball beat Vanderbilt Sunday, despite missing shots early to the tune of a 13-0 deficit, Bobby Hurley told the team to, basically, keep shooting.

“We felt that we were getting wide open shots and great looks, layups, stuff like that,” senior guard Tra Holder said after that game. “So, we stayed with it and coach kept preaching to keep going at it.”

They kept shooting, but still only hit 5-of-23 shots from behind the arc. Against Longwood on Tuesday, they didn’t go away from the three-ball. They kept throwing up shots, 34 to be exact, but only made 10.

Well, they kept shooting Friday in a 104-65 win against Pacific (5-8) as well, and as it goes for teams as talented as ASU, they hit their stride.

The third-ranked Sun Devils (12-0) knocked home 12-of-26 three-point tries, including a combined eight from senior guards Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice.

In the first half alone, the Devils knocked down eight three pointers. Justice, who finished the game with 11 points, hit three, and Evans, who had a game-high 21 points, nailed five, were seemingly having a challenge for who could hit the deeper shot.

It looked like Evans won with this bomb:

Regardless of who took home the trophy in the imaginary competition, Justice credits Hurley for the freedom he gives to take any shot, regardless of the range.

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“I can shoot any shot I can do because he just gives you the freedom to play your game because we’ve built so much trust with him and off the court,” Justice said. “It literally just shows how hard we work in practice and much freedom, how much trust Hurley and the whole coaching staff believes in us.”

As ASU fans have become accustomed to this season, the burst where Hurley’s team goes on magnificent runs, making close games blowouts in a matter of minutes, wasn’t forced to come in the second half for the first time in three games.

Instead, bolstered by those eight first half three-pointers, the Sun Devils went on two separate 9-0 runs, or semi-bursts as they could be called, propelling Arizona State to a 47-31 halftime lead.

But, maybe it was muscle memory for the undefeated Devils, because the second half burst came anyway. They outscored Pacific 57-34 in the second frame that included a 15-0 run.

If the first half was a shooting clinic, the second half became a highlight show.

Remy Martin started dishing out dimes left and right, looking like he was trying to best his #SCtop10 No. 1 play from Tuesday.

On one possession he would throw an ally-oop to De’Quon Lake, the next – dribbling the ball behind his back at the logo, he’d slide a no-look pass into the hands of Mickey Mitchell.

“I want Remy to be himself. I trust him and he’s been in big games already and delivered. He plays the game with some swag and a flair and he’s such a playmaker,” Hurley said. “You can see he loves to play. He’s out there making plays and having so much and fun.

“I’m never going to reign that in. I’m going to let him be who he is.”

Martin led all scorers in the second half with 13, adding three rebounds and three assists in the process.

The side-act to Martin’s sensational performance was De’Quon Lake’s blocking exhibition, which seemed to bring the 10,646 fans on hand at Wells Fargo Arena Friday afternoon to their feet each time.

The 6-foot-9 junior transfer from Iowa Western Community College nearly had a triple-double with blocks, finishing the game with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks.

The win Friday marks the end of ASU’s nonconference slate, and coming out of it unscathed and with a No. 3 ranking attached to them, Justice reflected on something that nobody saw coming.

“It’s hard to say that I could tell you right now we’d be 12-0, especially with what we’ve gone through,” he said. “But we’ve worked so hard that we knew any given night we can beat anybody, so if we stuck together, followed coach’s game plan, that we could beat anybody. But to sit here and tell you, like I’d be lying to you guys right now.

“But it’s just been a fun experience to be with these guys like every single day. To be out here, this crowd, this environment, everything, it’s just been so much fun.”

Heading into Pac-12 play, Hurley knows it’s a different game, bringing out the coach speak as he mentioned how everyone is now 0-0.

That first 0-0 team the Sun Devils will face, as many already know, is in-state rival and 18th-ranked U of A next Saturday in Tucson – a team in the Wildcats that Hurley has yet to beat in his previous two seasons.

The matchup will get its hype and build-up, but the Sun Devils don’t want to change anything.

Next: ASU Basketball: Mickey Mitchell proving to be a spark, getting it done all over the court

As Martin put it after being asked what the team’s preparation will be getting ready for Arizona on December 30: “Stick to what we’re doing. We haven’t lost.”

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.