Last night, ASU put another 30+ point beat down on another weak opponent to improve to 7-2. The Sun Devils might have the easiest non-conference home schedule in years which makes for mostly noncompetitive games but at least the Devils are making the most of it and taking care of business. After beating Delaware State by 39, Florida Gulf Coast by 32, and Cal Poly by 34, the Devils next take on national powerhouse Coppin State at 2pm on Saturday at home.
While every Division I team in a major conference plays easy non-conference schedules to pick up early wins and build confidence, you can definitely take more out of a close win over LSU or losses to Illinois and Nebraska than blowing out teams from inferior conferences.
That being said, Delaware State made the NCAA tournament in 2005 so it's not like the program lacks credibility. On the night, ASU did just about everything right, including shooting an unbelievable 82.4% in the second half and 65.2% for the game while holding the Hornets to a dismal 20.8% shooting. The Devils also dished out an impressive 25 assists as a team.
Defensively the Devils looked great by making DSU struggle all night from the field. The post defense stood out the most as every shot in the lane was fiercely contested and the trio of Jeff Pendergraph, Eric Boateng, and Kraidon Woods put up 7 blocks on the night.
Offensively, James Harden once was again the star as he scored 17 in the first half on the way to a game high 24 on 10-13 shooting. Harden makes the game look easy as he can score in a variety of ways but is most effective when slashing and drawing fouls. Harden and Pendergraph also put on an impressive display of dunks and alley oops to keep the crowd entertained.
The surprise on offense was the play of Eric Boateng. Boateng took advantage of the glaring lack of height on the floor for Delaware State and had his most impressive game as a Sun Devil by going 5-5 from the field for 10 points. Boateng has some of the longest arms I've ever seen and he did a much better job of keeping the ball high upon receiving it in the post rather than putting it on the floor in traffic and turning the ball over like he has earlier in the season. He also looked much more aware on defense and hopefully he can continue to develop as the season progresses because he could be a factor for us in the post in the much bigger Pac-10.
While ASU should again win easily against Coppin State, the following Saturday features a matchup against #21 Xavier which should tell us a lot more about the growth of this team.