Arizona State’s Jahii Carson is considered to be one of the top point guards in the nation this season.
You’ll get no argument from the College of Charleston coaching staff or the Cougar players.
Carson scored a game-high 21 points and handed out seven assists to lead four players in double figures as the Sun Devils beat the College of Charleston, 80-58, in the Wooden Legacy tournament Friday night before a crowd of 3,298 at Titan Gym in Fullerton, Calif.
The Cougars (2-5) will face Cal State Fullerton, a 48-46 loser to Miami, Sunday afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Carson, a sophomore, came into Friday night’s game averaging just over 21 points a game. Earlier in the season, the 5-10 Carson scored 40 points in an 86-80 win over UNLV. Carson has already said he’ll leave school after this season and enter the NBA.
“Jahii Carson might be a lottery pick, he’s definitely going to be a first-round draft pick,” said College of Charleston coach Doug Wojcik. “He scored 40 points against UNLV, 40 points. Jahii Carson is a very explosive player, one of the best we’ll see all season.”
Unlike Thursday night when Charleston was outscored 17-1 to start the game against San Diego State, the Cougars played well in the first half against the Pac-12 Sun Devils. The Cougars matched the Sun Devils basket-for-basket and held a 22-18 advantage on Anthony Thomas’ layup with 7:01 left in the first half.
The Sun Devils used an 18-8 run to end the first half and take a 36-30 advantage at halftime.
Charleston got a 3-pointer from guard Anthony Stitt and a jump hook from Adjehi Baru to start the second half and cut the lead to 36-35 with 19:02 to play.
But the Sun Devils broke the game open with a 15-3 run over the four minutes to take a 51-38 lead on Chance Murray’s three-point play with 15:05 to play. Arizona State, which shot 54 percent from the floor, converted on 14 of 25 shots from the field in the second half, including four of nine from three-point range.
“Their skill level making those three-pointers was the difference in the game,” Wojcik said.
The Cougars, meanwhile, struggled for the second straight game from the floor, shooting just 36 percent from field on 21 of 59 shooting.
“I was worried about our shooting from the beginning of the season,” Wojcik said. “Now we’re out here playing against bigger, longer athletes that can contest shots. I wouldn’t say we’re a great shooting team. That’s something we’ve got to work on and get better at.”
Wojcik certainly hasn’t shied away from playing some of the top teams in the country early in the season. So far this season, the Cougars have played a non-conference schedule that has included Louisville, Charlotte, Miami, San Diego State and Arizona State.
“We’ve played a very challenging non-conference schedule,” Wojcik said. “I know I didn’t do the guys any favors with this schedule, but I told the guys to keep their eye on the prize. This will prepare us for when we do start playing in the CAA. I think they’ve responded. They were dialed in tonight. They were listening.”
Stitt led the Cougars with 12 points, while Baru added 11 points, nine rebounds and a blocked shot. David Wishon came off the bench to score a career-high eight points.
“David had a career night for us and that’s important,” Wojcik said.
Charleston guard Canyon Barry, left, goes for the ball with guard Anthony Scott, right, defending as Arizona State guard Jahii Carson, center, drives to the basket in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Wooden Legacy tournament Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Fullerton, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)×
Charleston guard Canyon Barry, left, picks up a loose ball with Arizona State guard Chance Murray on the floor in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Wooden Legacy tournament Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Fullerton, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)×
College of Charleston forward Adjehi Baru (1) drives against Arizona State Eric Jacobsen, left, and is called for an offensive foul in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Wooden Legacy tournament Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Fullerton, Calif. Arizona State won 80-58. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)×