UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Virginia’s Casey Morsell picked a good game to find his shooting touch.
The Cavaliers highly touted freshman scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining, and No. 7 Virginia rallied past Arizona State 48-45 to win the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
Morsell, the first freshman to open the season as a starter for Virginia in seven years, made 7 of his 12 shots after having just five baskets on 36 attempts in the Cavaliers first five games.
“Casey really came of age,” coach Tony Bennett said. “He made some tough shots.
Mamadi Diakite added 15 points for the defending national champion Cavaliers (6-0), who shot 37% from the floor and trailed by nine points after a 19-0 run by the Sun Devils. That burst turned a 26-16 Virginia lead with 30 seconds left in the first half into a 35-26 second-half deficit.
Remy Martin had 21 points to lead Arizona State (3-2). He hit eight of his 16 shots, while the rest of the team went 9 for 26.
A steal by Khalid Thomas led to a 3-pointer by Martin that sent the teams into the locker room with Virginia up 26-21.
Virginia then missed its first eight shots of the second half, getting its first points after intermission on a goaltending call. The Cavaliers didn’t hit a shot until Diakite sank a contested a fall-away jumper that cut the deficit to 38-32. That was part of an 8-0 run that tied the game at 38.
Neither team led by more than two points after that, until Morsell’s game-deciding 3 from the top of the key.
Diakite blocked a shot at the other end, but Morsell missed a 3-pointer that would have iced the game with 14 seconds left.
Arizona State decided to hold for a final shot, but Rob Edwards (10 points) missed badly on a long 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“I felt like the shot we ended up getting wasn’t the best shot in the world,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “We wanted to try and get Rob a look and they did a good job on stepping out on that last screen.”
The game was played at Virginia’s pace. ASU, which averages just over 83 points per game, had just 17 field goals, one more than the Cavaliers.
“We found a way,” Bennett said. “We’ve got to address the 19-0 run that we gave up and that’s a problem. But, the 19-0 run that we overcame, that’s a really good thing.”
Diakite, who had four points in Virginia’s first-round win over Massachusetts, hit two 3-pointers in the first five minutes to help the Cavaliers to an early 10-2 lead.
A baseline drive by Morsell gave Virginia its first double-digit lead at 20-10. The freshman, who came in averaging 2.4 points per game, was 5 of 7 from the field in the first half.
Morsell said he wasn’t thinking about his offense and that may have been the key.
“I knew that they were a good transition team, so I had to get back and I had my defense leading my offense,” he said.
Arizona State average 68 shots in its first four games. The Cavaliers held them to 42 on Sunday. Twenty-two of ASU’s points came on the fast break. The Cavaliers did not have a fast-break point.
“It’s always a battle of wills and styles,” Bennett said. “We’ll keep trying to become more efficient offensively, but we can never give ground defensively. That’s our statement.”
ASU coach Bobby Hurley said that he’s not into moral victories, but believes the team is growing from experiences such as the season-opening loss to Colorado in Shanghai and this game.
“To go toe-to-toe with a team that is bringing guys back, that just won a national championship, that is undefeated, seventh in the country...I think it’s a positive,” he said. “It shows that we’re a legitimate team, that we’ve got players that can compete at the highest level.”
Virginia: This is seventh straight November tournament championship for the Cavaliers, who took home titles in the 2013 Corpus Christi Challenge, the 2014 Barclays Center Classic, the 2015 Charleston Classic, the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic, the 2017 NIT Season Tip-Off and last year’s Battle 4 Atlantis.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were hoping to complete a memorable trifecta this weekend for the school’s athletic program. Its wrestling team upset top-ranked Penn State on Friday and its football team knocked off No. 6 Oregon on Saturday.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils stay on the East Coast, playing at Princeton on Tuesday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers head home to face Maine on Wednesday.