Holder propels No. 5 Arizona State past Vanderbilt
TEMPE, Ariz. — With guard Tra Holder scoring 25 points and using a stifling defensive presence, No. 5 Arizona State made history in a 76-64 victory over Vanderbilt at Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday.
The Sun Devils are 10-0 for the first time in school history, not that they appear to be dwelling on it.
“We just want to take it one game at a time and win,” Holder said. “We’re just enjoying it, going with the process. Hopefully we can keep it going and make some more history.”
Guard Shannon Evans scored 15 points, forward Romello White had 12 points and nine rebounds and reserve forward Mickey Mitchell had eight points and a career-high 13 rebounds as the Sun Devils used a big burst after Vanderbilt scored the first 13 points of the game.
The Sun Devils, one of four undefeated teams in NCAA Division I, held Vanderbilt (3-7) to 34.3 percent shooting from the floor.
ASU trailed 19-8 after 12 minutes before going on an extended 49-18 run over 16 minutes to take control. Evans’ free throw gave ASU a 57-37 lead with 12:48 remaining, and Vanderbilt was never closer than 12.
“I’m in amazement of what these guys do,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “Really, all week was very stressed about this game. I don’t like waiting seven days to play.
“And the additional weight we are carrying now. We have a bulls-eye on our back now and teams are going to look at us differently than they have in the past.”
Freshman guard Saben Lee scored 24 points and forward Joe Toye had 14 points for the Commodores (3-7), who have lost six of seven. Lee had five rebounds and six assists.
Arizona State had three guards on the floor and sometimes four during its comeback.
The Sun Devils overcame a double-digit lead for the third time this season, most recently in a 95-85 victory over then-No. 2 Kansas last Sunday in which they trailed by 13 points in the first half. They vaulted from No. 16 to No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after that.
ASU trailed then-No.15 Xavier by 15 in the first half before rallying for a 102-86 victory in the championship game of the Las Vegas tournament in November.
The Sun Devils shot 43.1 percent from the field and had a 47-37 rebounding edge. The Sun Devils were fourth in NCAA Division I with a 91.8 points-per-game average and sixth in field goal percentage at 52.0 entering the game.
“I guess we can play a little defense, too,” Hurley said.
“Maybe people will recognize that we are not one-dimensional, that if we don’t have our full firepower on offense on a particular day that we can push through a game like this. But we had the burst. It happens fast because these guys get stops, turnovers and make big plays.”
Vanderbilt made 4-of-30 3-point attempts, three while building a 13-0 lead in the first five minutes. ASU was 5 of 24 from distance.
“We’re a small team, similar to ASU,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew said. “We have to make threes.
“Their offense, they spread you and can make shots really quick on the perimeter. They shoot some gaps. They played with a lot of intensity and you need to match that intensity all game.”
Toye had eight points, including two 3-pointers when the Commodores rolled to a 13-0 lead. Arizona State missed its first seven shots and committed five turnovers before White scored on a layup to end the drought.
Holder made a driving layup and a 3-pointer as the Sun Devils scored the final eight points of the first half to end a 22-10 run for a 30-29 lead.
ASU outscored Vanderbilt 27-8 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
NOTES: Arizona State has not been ranked higher since 1980-81, when the Fat Lever/Byron Scott/Alton Lister team reached No. 3 in the AP poll and beat No.1-ranked and undefeated Oregon State that March. That team lost to Kansas in the NCAA tournament. ... The Sun Devils received five first-place votes in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll, one of three teams to receive votes. No. 1 Villanova (41) and No. 2 Michigan State (19) were the others. ... ASU and Vanderbilt had one common opponent, Kansas State. The Sun Devils beat Kansas State 92-90 in the first round of the Las Vegas tournament in late November. Kansas State beat the Commodores 84-79 in Nashville on Dec. 3. ... Vanderbilt G Saben Lee attended Corona del Sol High in Tempe, about 15 minutes from the ASU campus.