Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski (13) brings down a rebound between Detroit's Evan Bruinsma (33) and Doug Anderson (23) during the first half of their first-round game in the NIT college basketball tournament Wednesday. (David Kadblubowski/Associated Press)
Tempe, Ariz. — Jahii Carson had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Carrick Felix added 21 points and seven rebounds as No. 3 Arizona State got past No. 6 Detroit 83-68 Wednesday in the first round of the NIT.
The Sun Devils (22-12) play at No. 2 seed Baylor Friday night in the second round. The Bears beat Long Beach State in their opening round game Wednesday 112-66.
Jason Calliste led the Titans with 19 points as Arizona State held Detroit to 10 under its season average of 78 points a game, eighth-best in the nation.
"I just think we're physical," Carson said. "I don't think they are used to the physicality of the Pac-12 and we brought that a little bit to them. The league that they play in ball screens and guard play but we force it inside, we just try to punish them."
After trailing by as much as 25 in the first half, Detroit (20-13) scored the first nine points of the second half, capped by Nick Minnerath's 3-pointer with 16:58 left that cut the lead to 10. Detroit later got within 51-42 but Carson, the nation's top-scoring freshman, hit back-to-back baskets and the Titans never got closer.
"I think playing fast goes with our personnel," Felix said of the Sun Devils' up-tempo pace on Wednesday. "Jahii - the quickest point guard in the nation - and we have great athletic wings, even our bigs can run the floor. I think that's something, that is our game, is running the floor. We have to make sure we stay aggressive."
Detroit missed its first 10 shots while the bigger Sun Devils dominated the boards, taking a 30-10 lead in the first 12 minutes. The Titans ended the night shooting 34 percent from the field.
"Well you have to give their defense credit," Detroit coach Ray McCallum said. "They played great at home and you saw the way they shot the ball, they had really set the tone when they came out and kept us in front, disrupted our rhythm. Throughout the first half we were zero for nine from three, they dominated on the glass."
The Sun Devils outrebounded the Titans 41-21 and late in the first half held a 23-3 advantage in rebounds. About the only thing going right for Detroit was drawing fouls. The Titans made all 15 of their free throws in the half and 26-of-27 for the game. But they were 6-of-27 from the field at halftime.
"To hold a team who's eighth in the nation in scoring to 22 percent was a real feather in our cap defensively," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said.
The Sun Devils led by as much as 25 in the first half while Detroit missed 16 of its first 19 shots and all nine of its 3-point attempts, trailing 46-27 at the break.
"When you get down like that you're pressing and we just could not get a rhythm," McCallum said. "We got to the free-throw line, did a great job there, but we just couldn't get a rebound when we needed one."
The Sun Devils came into the night having lost five of six, including a loss to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament after leading by 15 in the second half.
Detroit won four of its last six regular season games before losing in the semifinals of the Horizon League to Wright State.
Arizona State lost in its opening round NIT game in 2010, the last time they played in the postseason.
Detroit lost in its first game in the NCAA tournament a year ago, losing as a No. 15 seed to Kansas. The Titans also lost in their last appearance in the NIT, in 2002.