TEMPE, Ariz. — Kodi Justice launched the 3-pointer from the top of the key, and the basketball bounced off the glass and the rim and then fell through the net.
It was that kind of night for Arizona State.
The Sun Devils came out firing Saturday, drilling a school-record-tying 18 3-pointers to run the Rebels out of Wells Fargo Arena with a 97-73 victory.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” UNLV coach Marvin Menzies said. “We had something to do with it, and they did, too. They did a great job shooting the ball. Their first few looks for the 3 were wide open and they just got hot. They got going from a lot of different positions. We knew they could shoot it from a lot of different positions, but they shot at a real high clip tonight.”
Arizona State (5-3) made 13 of 22 3-pointers in the first half, in which the Sun Devils closed with a 17-3 run to take a 51-32 lead into halftime. Their total of 3-pointers tied the school record of 18, which came against San Francisco in 2009.
“They made a lot of tough shots,” UNLV forward Tyrell Green said. “We can’t let that affect us. We can’t look defeated. We had to keep going, keep playing. There was a lot of game left, but I felt we looked kind of defeated at times when they were making a lot of those Hail Mary threes. But we have to learn from it and be better. We know we’re better than this.”
This performance was quite an answer for Arizona State after its 115-69 loss to Kentucky on Monday in the Bahamas. And now UNLV (5-3) will have a week to think about its own one-sided defeat as the Rebels prepare to play fifth-ranked Duke on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Seeing former Blue Devils star Bobby Hurley on the sideline coaching Arizona State didn’t make the night any easier for the Rebels, whose last meeting with Duke was the upset loss in the 1991 national semifinals.
To pull off an upset of their own next weekend — or even be competitive — the Rebels will have to play much better than they did at Arizona State.
UNLV at least got back forward Cheickna Dembele, who missed the three prior games with a foot injury. He played five minutes, scoring a point and grabbing a rebound, and Menzies said he would be eased into further playing time.
Guard Kris Clyburn didn’t start because of an illness, but still played 25 minutes and scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Menzies considered sitting Clyburn, like he did Uche Ofoegbu on Wednesday at Southern Utah, but said he didn’t regret putting Clyburn out there.
Jalen Poyser led the Rebels with 20 points, and Green added 18.
Three players scored at least 20 points for the Sun Devils — Shannon Evans II with 28, Torian Graham with 22 and Tra Holder with 20.
Illnesses and injuries kept the Rebels from preparing as much as they would like, but Menzies also wasn’t satisfied with their demeanor against Arizona State.
“To survive these kinds of moments, you’ve got to look in the mirror as players and see what they’re made of a little bit,” Menzies said. “I probably was a little tougher on them that I probably needed to be in the locker room, but they needed to hear it. It’s gut-check time.”
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.