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December 6, 2012As he took a seat on the bench with nearly 15 minutes remaining in the game, center Jordan Bachynski slipped on his warm up and zipped it high and tight, figuring he'd need to stay fresh for his usual return a handful of minutes later.
It never happened.
Freshman Eric Jacobsen played the game's final 14:50, entering with Arizona State trailing Hartford 47-43, and leaving only when the final buzzer sounded awarding the Sun Devils a 71-63 win over the Hawks in front of 4,487 Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
It was a performance that provided as clear a message as any: Jahii Carson isn't the only talented freshman on ASU's roster.
Jacobsen scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half and had six rebounds in the ASU win, which improved it to 7-1 on the season. Hartford dropped to 4-4.
Jacobsen's contributions helped the Sun Devils to a 22-7 run over the course of a 11-plus minute stretch of the second half that saw a four point deficit turn into a 64-54 advantage at the 3:25 mark, effectively putting the game out of reach.
"I think he stepped up big," Carson said of the 6-foot-10 Jacobsen. "He's physical down low. He's proved that I think in every game that he's played and tonight he took advantage of the mismatches down low with his scoring. I tried my best to find him down low and capitalize."
As impressive as he was offensively and on the glass against the Hawks, ASU coach Herb Sendek said it was on defense where Jacobsen's presence was most appreciated. For the second time in recent weeks, ASU faced an opponent that played five perimeter players in an open post offense.
"Eric provides us with someone who can, as a big guy, go out on the perimeter and guard, certainly he can guard in the post, and that allows us to run our offense on the other end of the floor," Sendek said. "His contribution has been invaluable because of his defensive versatility."
Several of Jacobsen's second half field goals were set up beautifully by Carson, who finished with 20 points and seven assists with five rebounds. Perhaps most impressively, Carson had just two turnovers and the Sun Devils had a season-low 10 on the evening.
"That probably for me is the biggest gem on his stat line," Sendek said of his point guard prodigy's ball security.
The freshman duo weren't the only Sun Devils to play well on the evening. Senior Carrick Felix had his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds and drew rave reviews from his coach.
"It's hard to think of anybody right now who every possession, offensively and defensively, is giving the kind of effort and energy that Carrick is," Sendek said. "I mean he is laying his heart out. He's fun to watch, he's easy to cheer for. I mean he is giving incredible effort and he's now had consecutive double doubles which isn't easy to do. He's shooting a high percentage. He's literally playing every facet of the game for us."
Hartford didn't make it easy. The Hawks shot 50 percent from the field and 37.5 percent on 16 attempts from the 3-point stripe to trail by just one, 36-35 at halftime, and came out blazing to start the second period, hitting two 3-pointers and scoring on four of their first five possessions.
ASU clamped down from there though, in concert with Jacobsen's entrance into the game. For the second half, Hartford shot just 29 percent from the field despite making 6 of 13 3-pointers.
"We just kept playing hard, kept attacking and got a couple defensive stops and that helped a lot," Jacobsen said.
The game probably wouldn't have been as competitive if not for ASU's struggles at the foul line, where it was just 11 of 23 including a combined 2 of 9 from guards Carson and senior Chris Colvin.
Carson said that even with the free throw struggles, ASU could have put Hartford away earlier if it had played with its second half intensity throughout.
"I think that we were more hyped (up) coming out at the beginning of the season," Carson said. "People underestimated us and we felt like we had to make a statement. These last couple games I think we got a little bit comfortable, I think we got a little bit of an ego coming out and we've got to just stick to how we were at the beginning of the season, just come out hungry and make an impact and just beat teams."
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