Lake scores 24 in ASU debut, leads Sun Devils past Bengals
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Shannon Evans was Arizona State’s leading scorer, his 25 points helping the Sun Devils win their season opener 94-74 Friday night over Idaho State.
But Evans paused in the middle of his postgame remarks to announce the arrival of De’Quon Lake into the room as he applauded his teammate.
Lake, a 6-foot-10 transfer making his ASU debut, made 8 of 10 shots on his way to 24 points and blocked three shots. He added eight rebounds.
“Here he goes right now, the man of the hour,” Evans said. “He impacted the game tremendously, blocking shots, protecting the rim, rebounding and dunking. We need him to keep that going for us to be a good team.”
Lake said he had a good week of practice that carried over to the game.
“Just had a bunch of energy,” Lake said.
Tra Holder, the fourth-highest returning scorer in the Pac-12, added 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Arizona State got off to a slow start but got hot quickly and ended up making 52 percent of its shots for the game. The Sun Devils led by as many as 27 points in the second half despite rotating only seven players for all but the final minute of the game.
Jacob McCord led Idaho State with 18 points. Novak Topalovic added 13.
Arizona State used an 18-2 run to take a 22-10 lead midway through the first half, only to see Idaho State make it 30-29 with under six minutes to play.
The Bengals went the final 3 minutes, 43 seconds of the half without scoring. The Sun Devils made a pair of 3-pointers and got a thunderous dunk from Lake, then Remy Martin hit a line-drive jumper with one second to go for a 51-33 ASU lead at the break.
“Their guards really hurt us. That was the key to the game,” Idaho State coach Bill Evans said. “We tried to play some zone to try to slow them down a little bit but they still continued to drive and kick it.”
Lake scored 13 of his points in the first half and dunked several times throughout the game.
“We went to him a couple of times early by design to try to get him touches,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said of Lake. “We thought we might have had an advantage in there because he does have the ability to score on the block and finish.”
Idaho State: The Bengals were picked to finish in the bottom three of the Big Sky in the coaches and media polls, in part based on their 6-26 record from last season. But three of the top four leading scorers are back this season, and the team showed some resolve in overcoming a big run in the first half against a higher-caliber opponent.
Arizona State: Despite the departure/absence of three key players in Vila, White and Lawrence, the Sun Devils had to be encouraged by the play of two newcomers, Lake and Martin (12 points). Four home non-conference games to start the season could get ASU off to a confidence-building start in Hurley’s third season.
Lake can give the Sun Devils a presence it lacked in the low post often last season, Hurley said. “He wants to play around the basket. De’Quon, he knows his game, he understands his game, he realizes that that’s where he excels right now, so that’s a plus.”
The Arizona State student section brought back its infamous “Curtain of Distraction” for this season, and put it into use when Idaho State shot free throws in the second half at that end of the court.
Among the skits unveiled when the curtains were opened were a guy pedaling on a human bike, a ballerina wearing a tiger mascot head and a fan drinking a blue liquid out of a bottle of Windex.
The Arizona State season opened without one key returnee and two top newcomers, leaving the team with only six available scholarship players on Friday. Sophomore forward Ramon Vila left the team, and Hurley indicated the decision involved Vila’s playing time.
“It was more of enjoying playing the game and having more of a role that he’s looking for,” Hurley said.
Top recruit Kimani Lawrence, a freshman forward, has a foot injury and will be re-evaluated Monday, and forward Romello White is still serving a suspension for a rules violation from last year, when he was with the team but ineligible to play.
Idaho State hosts Utah Valley in its home opener on Nov. 14.
Arizona State welcomes San Diego State on Nov. 14.