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December 2, 2012Sacramento State coach Brian Katz didn't wave a white flag but he may as well have.
After complaining about a charging foul called against Hornets guard Dylan Garrity with 3:59 left in the first half, Katz picked up two technical fouls and was ejected, sandwiched by converted foul shots by Arizona State junior guard Evan Gordon.
As he left the court with his team trailing 39-26, Katz ripped off his suit jacket and gave it a wave, and with that his team's chances vanished into thin air.
Gordon made two more technical foul shots, freshman guard Jahii Carson converted two free throws for Garrity's foul and the Sun Devils' lead ballooned to what would prove to be an insurmountable 17 points in a 90-70 win in front of 5,007 Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.
The win improved ASU to 6-1 on the season and dropped Sacramento State to 5-2.
With his older brother, NBA guard Eric Gordon, in attendance, Gordon busted out of a season long shooting slump with a career-high 29 points on just 16 field goal attempts. He was supported by senior forward Carrick Felix's 21 points and career-best 12 rebounds.
"I just thought offensively for the most part we were really in good rhythm tonight," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "We shared the ball, we moved the ball and we made shots. Sometimes it's as simple as that. When the ball is going in the basket everything seems better. But it was great to see Evan have a performance like he had tonight and Carrick just continues to play outstanding basketball on both ends of the floor."
Evan said his brother told him to get closer in shots when struggling with his 3-point shot ---,he was 5 of 28 from the distance before Saturday -- but it never came to that. He hit his first 3-pointer one minute into the contest, followed it up with another several minutes later, and eventually converted 5 of 9 in the game.
"It's a good feeling, me having a couple rough starts and everything but I just tried to stay with it and I hit the first shot and it just went on from there," Gordon said.
Sendek said in advance of the game he felt like it was due.
"He's too good a player and too good a shooter to not turn the corner but it happens from time to time." Sendek said. "Hitters go through a hitting slump and shooters go through those periods of time. But the one thing I'd say about Evan, during that entire stretch, he really was good on defense."
Sacramento State had four scorers in double figures, none more than wing John Dickson, who had 12 points on just 4 of 12 from the field.
The Hornets cut its deficit to 10 points at 60-50, scoring 20 points in the first five and a half minutes of the second period before the Sun Devils again pulled away for good on a 12-2 run.
"I thought for much of the second half our defense wasn't up to standard," Sendek said. "At the first media timeout I think they'd scored like 15 points and at one point, well into the second half they were shooting 57 percent from the field. It just seemed like even though we were scoring we were having a tough time getting any gap because our defense wasn't what it needed to be."
With the opponent playing five perimeter players through large stretches of the game, Sendek countered with a small lineup featuring his three primary guards on the floor along with Felix at the power forward position and freshman Eric Jacobsen at center.
Jacobsen had six points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes, but perhaps made his biggest impact on the defensive end of the floor.
"I thought our guys played with great energy," Sendek said. "I thought everyone contributed in that area but right now as the game rewinds in my mind it seems like Carrick and Eric Jacobsen both came up with their fair share of balls, and that's an area that we quite frankly haven't been good at for a long time, and so it was good to see those guys come up with those kinds of plays to give us some extra possessions.
"Eric Jacobsen did a really good job of covering out onto the floor. For a young big guy he moves his feet well, he has extremely high basketball IQ. But yeah, they really tried to force the matchup game by playing five perimeter players."
The Sun Devils had 21 assists on 31 baskets, including 13 in the second half, and benefited against the Sacramento State zone with some new wrinkles put into their offense after struggling with Arkansas-Pine Valley's zone earlier in the week.
"We worked on it after that game," Gordon said. "We were sending guys to the corner, which we weren't doing before and it paid off for us."
ASU will return to action Wednesday against Hartford at Wells Fargo Arena.
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