PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Jahii Carson didn’t let his so-so first half bother him Thursday night.
Carson scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, and led Arizona State to its third straight victory, 63-59 over Washington State.
Carson and Carrick Felix carried the load in the second half for the Sun Devils (17-4, 6-2 Pac-12), scoring all but five of Arizona State’s points after the break, when the Cougars led 28-24.
With the score tied at 58, Carson made a layup and was fouled by Brock Motum. Carson made the free throw to give the Sun Devils a 61-58 lead. And the freshman’s basket with 16 seconds to play accounted for the final margin. He made six of his last seven shots and finished 10 of 19 for the night.
“He is impressive, for a freshman to have that kind of composure down the stretch after struggling in the first half is something,” Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said.
Carson made just 2 of 8 shots in the first half for four points.
“I just got used to their (Washington State) defense, I got used to the court and I just kept trying to shoot with confidence. I started to be more focused in the second half and attack the paint,” Carson said.
The Cougars had a nine-point lead in the first half, the biggest for either team in a game that featured 10 lead changes.
“He (Carson) hurt us in many ways in the second half, driving the ball and shooting, and he started to free up his team for multiple shots,” Washington State head coach Ken Bone said.
Before the late heroics, Washington State had scored seven straight points to make it 58-all. Royce Woolridge, who led the Cougars (11-10, 2-6) with 16 points, had five in that 7-0 run. Woolridge scored 15 of his points in the second half.
Evan Gordon had 13 points and Felix had 11 points — all in the second half — and 11 rebounds for the Sun Devils, who overcame a 4-for-11 performance from the free-throw line.
The Sun Devils are 6-2 in the conference for the first time since 1994, and are off to their best start since 1981, when ASU began the season 19-2 behind eventual NBA players Byron Scott, Fat Lever and Alton Lister.
Mike Ladd had 14 points, and Motum matched Felix’s numbers with 11 points and 11 boards for theCougars. The point total for Motum was his lowest of the season.
Dexter Kernich-Drew scored 10 points for Washington State, which has lost six times this season by seven or fewer points. The Cougars’ next game is at home Saturday against No. 8 Arizona while the Sun Devils go across the state to face Washington, also on Saturday.
The Sun Devils committed only four turnovers in the game — none by guards Carson, Felix and Gordon. Washington State was 7 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half, tying their best long-range field-goal performance of the season, but went just 2 of 9 the rest of the way.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.