Savon Goodman

Bo Barnes

Arizona State uses balanced effort to upset No. 6 Arizona

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Given the personnel losses that occurred at the end of the 2013-14 season, Arizona State was expected to have some issues this season. And that was the case ahead of Saturday’s game against in-state rival No. 6 Arizona, as Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils had a record of 11-11 overall and 3-6 in Pac-12 play. However Arizona State played arguably its best game of the season against the Wildcats, using a balanced offensive effort to pull off the 81-78 upset win.

This is the second straight year in which Arizona State has beaten Arizona in Tempe, with a Jahii Carson dunk capping a wild (and controversial) win last season.

The issue for Arizona on Saturday was their defense, as Arizona State managed to shoot 50 percent from the field and 7-for-15 from beyond the arc. The Sun Devils were balanced offensively, with four players scoring between 14 and 18 points, but it was senior Bo Barnes who made the difference in the second half. Of his career-high 18 points Barnes scored 13 in the second half, and he also made all eight of his free throw attempts.

Add in freshman point guard Tra Holder, who scored ten of his 15 points in the first half and continued his recent run of solid play, and Arizona State more than held its own on the perimeter. The Sun Devils entered the game ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in points per possession (0.98; conference games only). They averaged 1.125 points per possession against the Wildcats who, while there aren’t as good defensively as they were a season ago, are still formidable on that end of the floor.

T.J. McConnell scored 25 points and dished out four assists for Arizona, shooting 11-for-19 from the field, but that number of shot attempts is too high for him. Arizona also managed to convert 18 offensive rebounds into 13 points, but that wasn’t enough to cover up for either their defense or the fact that starting center Kaleb Tarczewski scored just two points on 1-for-6 shooting.

Last year’s team, which featured current pros Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, was able to buckle down defensively and thus cover up for their offensive deficiencies. This team doesn’t consistently defend at that level, and it can get them in trouble when faced with a team that can find and make decent looks. Whether it was Holder in the first half, Savon Goodman early in the second or Barnes down the stretch, Arizona State was able to win some individual battles offensively. That allowed them to establish the working margin needed to pull off the upset.

In that regard this loss looked similar to Arizona’s first loss of the season at UNLV, as they were unable to match up with either Rashad Vaughn or Christian Wood.

If Arizona is to get Sean Miller to his first Final Four, that has to change between now and mid-March. Arizona State’s ceiling obviously isn’t that high, but on Saturday they were the team that executed better. With that being the case, Sendek’s Sun Devils were rewarded with their biggest win of the season to date.


Arizona State lands former UNLV forward Savon Goodman

Savon Goodman, Brandon Spearman
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With two scholarships available for the 2014-15 season, Arizona State has reportedly made an addition to its roster. As first reported by Chris Karpman of the program has landed a commitment from former UNLV forward Savon Goodman, who will have three years of eligibility remaining.

Goodman averaged 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his lone season at UNLV, playing in 27 of UNLV’s 35 games in 2012-13. But his time in Las Vegas was cut short by off-court issues, and although Goodman attended Indian Hills CC in 2013-14 he did not play for the school’s highly regarded basketball program. That decision preserved a season of eligibility for Goodman.

There were reports earlier this month that Arizona State was interested in Goodman, a 6-foot-6 combo forward who’s known for his athleticism and ability as a defender.

Goodman becomes the sixth newcomer expected to join the Arizona State program, with two being junior college transfers. The Sun Devils lost an awful lot from last season’s NCAA tournament team, with Jahii Carson foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the 2014 NBA Draft and center Jordan Bachynski and guard Jermaine Marshall both out of eligibility.

In addition to that productive trio Herb Sendek lost Egor Koulechov and Brandan Kearney, with both making the decision to transfer. Arizona State did receive some good news Friday, as wing Shaquielle McKissic was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA.

Ex-UNLV big Savon Goodman resurfaces

Savon Goodman
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In late December, Savon Goodman, formerly a UNLV big, plead guilty to petty theft and trespassing charges. Goodman’s plea followed the decision by coach Dave Rice that Goodman wouldn’t play for the Runnin’ Rebels in 2013-14, and the sophomore’s choice to leave the program in the fall. Now, though, it would appear Goodman has resurfaced: Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic reports Arizona State is interested in the forward.

Haller’s tweet regarding Goodman used the word ‘involved’, and as we mentioned on Friday evening, the Sun Devils have quite a few open scholarships for next season. Other than Richie Edwards, Jahii Carson, Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynski, ASU will also lose Bo Barnes, Calaen Robinson, and potentially Shaquielle McKissic — coach Herb Sendek will need a plethora of extra bodies just to make it through practice (and that is even with a large incoming recruiting class).

Goodman’s role at UNLV was solely off the bench, but despite his nine or so minutes per game, there were consistent flashes of Goodman’s potential. Reports about UNLV’s practice, or observations during open gyms and workouts, gave the impression that Goodman could be an impact player if he just got the minutes. If Arizona State is indeed the place for the forward, the playing time is certainly available.