UNLV fans who haven’t paid much attention to Arizona State this season will have to be thrilled when they see the Sun Devils take the court and Jahii Carson is nowhere to be seen.
The diminutive point guard absolutely shredded the Rebels when the teams met in Las Vegas last season, pouring in 40 points in an 86-60 victory.
But Carson is gone, along with big man Jordan Bachynski, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds in last year’s meeting.
The cupboard is not bare for Herb Sendek’s team, though.
Danish sharpshooter Jonathan Gilling, a starter last season, has emerged as the team’s leading scorer in his new role as a spark plug off the bench. Gilling has made 16 of 26 shots from beyond the arc thus far, good for 62 percent.
Senior Bo Barnes also provides a shooting threat off the bench for the Sun Devils as he has knocked down 13 of 25 attempts from 3-point range.
Eric Jacobsen has slid into Bachynski’s role in the post, leading the team in minutes and averaging 11 points and eight rebounds per game.
Junior college transfer Gerry Blakes is the other primary scorer so far for Arizona State. He leads the team in shot attempts by a wide margin —47 to Barnes’ 33— and is scoring 10.2 points per game.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment so far this season has been Shaquielle McKissic. He emerged late last season and was expected to be a breakout star this year for a team looking for an offensive identity after Carson’s departure.
It just hasn’t happened.
McKissic, whose journey to college basketball success is a tragic tale, just hasn’t turned the corner.
Neither have the Sun Devils just yet. Arizona State has won the three games it was expected to and came up short against the two best opponents on its schedule early in the season.
UNLV might be getting the Sun Devils at the right time. This team might be a lot better when former UNLV forward Savon Goodman becomes eligible after the fall semester.
Reports around the program indicate Sendek expects big things from Goodman when he’s finally able to play again.
This might also be an ideal place for the young Rebels to experience their first taste of life on the road in college basketball.
Arizona State doesn’t exactly bring out huge crowds.
In three home games this season, the average attendance at Wells Fargo Arena is 4,353.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.