Sun Devils Stun Sluggish Zona in 2OT
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The location: Tempe, Arizona.
The result: Pure pandamonium.
Although their triumph was prematurely celebrated by both the team and fans, Arizona State still managed to pull off a huge 69-66 double-overtime upset over No 2 Arizona last night in what proved to be a St Valentine's Day thriller at Wells Fargo Arena.
There was certainly no love lost between these rivals, as both teams traded blows throughout regulation and spilling over into two overtimes. This was certainly similar to a heavyweight fight. The tempo was slow, the scoring was almost non-existent at time, and both defensive schemes took center stage during the 50-minute span.
Both teams shot poorly from the floor, with the edge going to the Sun Devils, who shot a measly .40%. The charity stripe proved to be anything but, with both teams only canning about half of their attempts.
At the end, Arizona State secured the win when their defensive stud, 7-2 senior Jordan Bachynski, blocked an attempt by TJ McDonnell that all but ended Arizona's last hope. However, it did precipitate crowd bedlam and an ill-advised decision by Jahii Carson:
If the Sun Devils can complete the regular season is competent fashion, this could be the signature victory sends them to the Big Dance. It marked their first upset over a top-five team since 1998.
Herb Sendek's squad was led by Jermaine Marshall, who was by far the most lethal offensive player on the court Friday night. Although he took a ill-timed nap for fifteen-plus minutes, it was his three-point makes that proved to be the difference.
Regardless of how significant this win was, Sendek needs to remind his team -- and especially Carson, who is leaning to declaring for the NBA draft -- to play smarter. The sophomore's flashiness may excite the crowd, but his judgment in this game was both risky and arrogant. It's the way his season has gone, actually, which has definitely not helped his draft stock.
This result also puts the Sun Devils in the hunt for a bye in the Pac-12 tourney. The top four earn this privelege, and in a knockout event, that's definitely an advantage. So after knocking out the conference leader, if Arizona State can clean up its impetuousness it might be able to enjoy it.
Just know that event is in Las Vegas. After last night, Sendek might need to put an early curfew on Carson.