SEATTLE — Jahii Carson tormented Washington, whether he was breaking down defenders on the dribble and getting to the rim, or hitting a string of big shots as Arizona State tried to rally.
No matter what Arizona State’s freshman star did, he couldn’t overcome Washington’s big duo of Aziz N’Diaye and Shawn Kemp Jr. on the interior.
N’Diaye converted a three-point play off an offensive rebound with 34 seconds left, Kemp scored a career-high 18 in just his second start and the Huskies held off Arizona State 96-92 on Saturday night despite 32 points from Carson.
“The big man in the middle was huge in more ways than one,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “He just did a tremendous job. I’m so glad we have him.”
The duo of N’Diaye and Kemp dominated the interior for Washington (13-9, 5-4 Pac-12), but no rebound or basket was bigger than N’Diaye tapping Scott Suggs’ miss to keep the play alive and scoring while being fouled by Jordan Bachynski. The 45 percent free-throw shooter then converted the three-point play, closing out a night where he was 6 of 6 from the line.
C.J. Wilcox added a pair of free throws after Carrick Felix missed a 3-pointer, but Carson hit a 3-pointer for Arizona State (17-4, 6-3) and Washington committed a turnover on the inbound with 13 seconds left.
Given one last chance to try and pull out an unlikely victory, Carson drove to the rim but his shot was partly blocked by N’Diaye and came up short while Carson went crashing to the floor on his hip. Wilcox added two more free throws to clinch the victory that snapped Washington’s four-game losing streak and kept the Huskies from dropping a fifth straight for the first time since 2004.
“I knew that we were in the bonus and if I got open I could most likely hit the floater and if I could get fouled I knew I would be able to knock down two free throws,” Carson said. “But down the stretch on the home court of the home team it’s tough to get a call. Things didn’t go our way.”
Carson finished with the second-most points for any Arizona State freshman, but the Sun Devils allowed the most points of Herb Sendek’s coaching tenure in Tempe. Jonathan Gilling added 22 points including six 3-pointers and Felix finished with 10.
Carson finished 13 of 19 from the field with most of his scoring coming on drives to the rim. His total was second only to Mario Bennett’s 35 for the most by an Arizona State freshman. Arizona State shot 64 percent but couldn’t counter Washington’s 50 points in the paint or the Huskies 14 offensive rebounds.
Arizona State was trying to finish the first half of conference play with seven wins for the first time since 1981, but instead had their three-game win streak snapped.
“We got crushed inside in a variety of ways, low post, transition, offensive rebounds, cutters off back screens to name a few of the ways they tallied 50 points in the paint,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “Certainly the rebounding was very problematic for us, really got destroyed on the backboards, and we got beat on 50/50 balls.”
Washington had six players finish in double figures and for most of the night Wilcox, the Huskies leading scorer, was a non-factor.
Andrew Andrews provided Washington an offensive spark off the bench with his aggressiveness and finished with a career-high 20. Kemp was unstoppable most of the night on the block, while N’Diaye had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Scott Suggs added 14 while Wilcox and Desmond Simmons each finished with 10.
Washington went 21 of 22 at the free-throw line, countering 3 of 13 shooting from beyond the arc.
“I’m starting now so I’m coming out there ready to play from the beginning,” Kemp said. “I’m way more comfortable (now).”
A crazy finish seemed unlikely when Washington led by 15 early in the second half and 10 with 5 minutes left only to see the Sun Devils stage a furious rally. The lead was gone in barely 2 minutes as the Sun Devils rolled off the next nine points, capped by Felix’s 3-pointer with 3:10 left that pulled Arizona State within 82-81.
After a pair of Wilcox free throws, Gilling scored with the shot clock about to expire. Simmons drove for a three-point play, but Carson and Gilling sandwiched 3-pointers around a jumper from Suggs to tie the game at 89 with 1 minute left.
Washington settled for a jumper from Suggs that was offline, only to have N’Diaye clean up the mess that finally gave Washington the lead for good.
“I just followed through on the shot and the ball went in,” N’Diaye said. “I got lucky.”
The 96 points were the most scored by Washington in the regular season since Feb. 10, 2011 when they scored 109 in a win over California. The Huskies had 52 at halftime, nearly topping their total of 53 in a loss on Thursday against Arizona.
“We hadn’t been playing well offensively, but we knew it was coming,” Wilcox said. “We knew what we were capable of tonight.”