Arizona State buries Longwood in second half
TEMPE, Ariz. — No. 3 Arizona State followed a pattern in its two victories this week — a lethargic first half followed by a rollicking second half.
Tra Holder scored 20 points and the Sun Devils used a 19-2 run early in the second period as a springboard to a 60-point half in a runaway 95-61 victory over Longwood on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I have to do a better job of getting us ready to play,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “We’ll focus on figuring out ways to start a little better.
“We can’t just play that second half the way we’ve been doing. Things are going to become a lot more difficult here moving forward.”
Kodi Justice scored 18 points and freshman guard Remy Martin had 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Sun Devils (11-0) extended the best start in school history while equaling their second-longest winning streak.
De’Quon Lake had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Mickey Mitchell added 12 points and five rebounds for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils used a 49-18 run that spanned both halves in a 76-64 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday. They also had a 58-point second half in a victory over Xavier.
“No,” Mitchell said when asked if there were any concern over the slow starts. “As a team, we know what we can be. There’s a reason we’re ranked No. 3. We just have to pick it up as a team. It starts in practice. We have to focus more and take the approach a lot more seriously now.”
Freshman Kamil Chapman scored 16 points, and senior guard B.K. Ashe had 14 points, 12 in the first half, for Longwood (3-8). The Lancers have lost 25 consecutive games to Division I opponents.
Leading 35-30 at halftime after shooting only 33.3 percent against the Lancers’ 2-3 zone defense, the Sun Devils used a full-court press to force tempo and change the rhythm.
Holder scored five points and Justice had a 3-pointer and an assist in the 19-2 run for a 57-36 lead early in the second half. The Sun Devils outscored the Lancers 60-31 after the break.
Mitchell, playing his third game after gaining his eligibility at the end of the semester, had a breakaway dunk, a tip-in and an assist in the big run. He started the second half.
“Coaches told us to attack the zone, and I thought we did a better job of that,” Mitchell said.
Martin had all 13 of his points in the second half, Justice had 12 and Holder had 10.
Justice had four of Arizona State’s 10 3-pointers and Holder had three, although the Sun Devils were only 10 of 34 from distance.
Arizona State was seventh in the nation with a scoring average of 90.2 points a game coming in.
The Lancers shot 36.8 percent from the floor and committed 26 turnovers, 10 more than their season average, while playing without injured leading scorer Isaiah Walton, who is averaging 17.2 points a game.
“I thought that we dictated the tempo in the first half with the zone,” Longwood coach Jayson Gee said. “I felt like that was going to be the defense that we needed to employ to get the tempo in our favor. You couldn’t play this team, as we saw in the second half, at that tempo.
“I mean, they are just too explosive.”
NOTES: No. 1 Villanova (11-0), No. 6 Miami (9-0) and No. 15 TCU (10-0) are the only other unbeaten teams in NCAA Division I. Those three and Arizona State do not play again until Saturday. ... Longwood’s last Division I victory came against Big South rival Presbyterian on Jan. 4, 2017. The Lancers have beaten two Division II teams and one Division III team this season. ... Arizona State is No. 3 in the AP poll for the third time in school history. The 1962-63 and 1980-81 teams also got there. The 1962-63 team with Joe Caldwell was 26-3. The 1980-81 team of Byron Scott, Fat Lever and Alton Lister finished 24-4. ... Former NBA star Grant Hill attended the game wearing Arizona State gear.