Jan. 24, 2013
By Jordan Parry, ASU Media Relations Student Intern
No one can complain about free basketball.
Last season, Arizona State swept USC in basketball for only the sixth time in school history. This year, they will try to make it the seventh time. With a 98-93 overtime win Thursday night, they're halfway there, but not without immense second half drama.
It did not take long after tipoff to realize this contest was evenly matched, and that was evident at halftime as the two squads headed into the locker room all knotted at 42.
The Sun Devils started the game on a good note on the offensive end, as Jordan Bachynski drew a shooting foul on the game's first possession. He made the first and missed the second, but ASU grabbed their first of two offensive rebounds on the first series down the court, which ended with an easy layup for guard Evan Gordon.
On the defensive side of the ball, things began a little shaky for the Sun Devils, who allowed two alley-oop dunks as the Trojans took an early 6-3 lead.
Coming off a big game against Arizona, Gordon picked up right where he left off, scoring the first six of seven Arizona State points. He finished the first half with 10 points on 4-8 shooting, but there was much more to come from him.
The quick-paced game slowed due to a 30-second USC timeout following a Carrick Felix three-pointer, which was then followed by two quick official timeouts. This did not seem to affect the players, however, who kept finding ways to put the ball in the basket. The Sun Devils led 16-14 at the first official timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Jonathan Gilling drained a three-pointer from the top of the key. It wasn't Gilling's usual three-pointer that did damage in the first half, though, as he recorded nine rebounds in the first half, just six shy of his career-high of 15.
With 8:48 to play, USC was forced to call their second timeout of the contest after back-to-back Sun Devil possessions ended with a Ruslan Pateev dunk and a Gordon three from the corner. The timeout calmed the Trojans down, and answered out of the timeout with a three-ball of their own from Jio Fontan, who had 13 points in the first half. The score remained 27-24 Sun Devils.
Gilling then found a cutting Felix down the baseline, who threw down a vicious jam in front of the student section, igniting the home crowd at Wells Fargo Arena.
After sitting on the bench while Pateev played solid minutes down low, Bachynski re-entered and assured everyone that he's not to be forgotten, slamming down a two-handed jam of his own to make it 31-27. The Sun Devils went on to lead 35-29 at the final official timeout of the half.
USC used 11 players in the first half, showing off their depth that the Sun Devils lack. In the final minutes of the half, ASU point guard Jahii Carson was forced to sit with two fouls. Against Arizona last game, Carson had two fouls entering the final minutes of the first half, but picked up his third on the offensive end, something Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek must have tried to avoid for his young superstar.
The Trojans made a run with Carson on the bench, coming all the back to tie the game. With the score knotted at 39, ASU's Bo Barnes hit a three-pointer of his own, only to be countered by an Eric Wise three-pointer with five seconds left in the half, sending the teams tied into the break.
Both teams picked up where they left off with their hot shooting in the second half, as two layups by Carson and Bachynski were countered with two three-pointers by Fontan and Wise for USC.
Carson, averaging 10.1 points in the second half, wasted no time trying to eclipse his average tonight, as he converted on a three-point play to give him five points in the half at the 16:46 mark and nine for the game. After great ball movement in which all five Sun Devils touched the ball, Gilling found Carson who stepped into one from beyond the arc and sunk it, giving him eight second half points.
Gilling, continuing his all-around good play, then found Pateev for a bucket plus the foul, as ASU's lead grew to 60-56.
Pateev may have played his best all-around game of the year for the Sun Devils, bringing a boost of energy off the bench and creating offensive rebounding opportunities for his teammates, as well as hitting crucial free throws. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three blocks, but most importantly was 4-5 from the free throw line.
After a three-pointer by Ari Stewart cut the lead to one, Carson slashed to the rim, again making his bucket while getting fouled. This time he did not convert the three-point play, but made up for it on the next possession as he found Gordon at the top of the key for another ASU three-pointer. Arizona State led 65-61 with 7:58 to play.
USC refused to go away, though, and stayed in the game primarily through the three-ball. They hit 15 in the game, often bringing them back within striking distance.
They may have let the hard-fought game get to them, though, as Wise picked up a technical foul with 3:34 left for USC after getting in a small scrum off a USC miss and ASU run-out. ASU led 75-69 after Gilling hit both free throws off the technical. ASU got the ball back afterwards, and Carson immediately hit a jumper from the top of the key to extend the lead to 77-69.
USC hit a shot on the other end, but Carson quickly found Gilling in the corner who knocked down his specialty three, as the lead extended to nine with 2:51 to play.
The Trojans wouldn't let up, though, as they hit three straight free throws followed by an offensive rebound, which was put back up for a layup. The Devils led 80-76 at the timeout with 1:12 to play in regulation.
Coming out of the timeout, the Sun Devils put the ball in the hands of their best player and point guard, Carson, who was fouled on his way to the rim, sending him to the line for two. He sank the first but missed the second, giving ASU a five point edge with one minute remaining.
On the other side of the court, Wise missed a fallaway jumper from the baseline, which was rebounded by Carson, who was immediately fouled. Carson again made one of two, this time for a six-point lead.
If fans were looking to exhale, then was not the time, as USC guard J.T. Terrell stepped into a deep three from the top of the perimeter, closing the gap to three with 21.3 seconds to play.
Off the inbound, Gilling found Gordon, who was fouled and sent to the line. His first attempt rattled in, while his second swished through for a five-point lead. Once again, though, USC was not finished.
Looking dead in the water, Terrell hit his second-straight three, this time closing the gap to within two points with 11.3 seconds to play.
This time it was Felix's turn to head to the line, where he could only convert on one of two free throws. The Sun Devils led 85-82 with 7.8 seconds to play, the ball in USC's court needing a three to tie for overtime. Stepping back beyond the perimeter, Fontan spun and somehow managed to throw a shot up that hit nothing but net. Felix's half court prayer at the buzzer came up just short, and the teams headed to overtime.
The first points of the five minute overtime period came at the hands of Gilling, who got fouled and sank two free throws. The Trojans answered with one free throw on their end. Gordon then hit a three from the top of the key, but Fontan responded with a nice three-point play of his own to make it 90-89 Sun Devils.
Gilling, however, had ice in his veins, as he drilled a three of his own with 3:28 to play. ASU struggled to get stops down the stretch, though, as USC was able to match many of the Sun Devil scoring efforts.
Arizona State led by two with two minutes to play in the overtime period when Pateev was sent to the free throw line for two shots. He buried both, and the Sun Devils led 95-91 with 1:38 to play in the game.
USC came out with the ball after a mad scramble on ASU's side of the court, and rushed down court for an easy two, clipping the lead to two at 95-93 with 41 seconds to play.
The Sun Devils once again put the ball in the hands of Carson, who got fouled trying to get by his defender. He missed his first free throw, but calmed down to sink his second, making it a three-point game.
This time, the Trojans couldn't quite pull off the impossible. Fontan ran down and quickly put up a three-point attempt, but it went begging, and two free throws by Gordon iced the grueling victory for the Sun Devils.
Gordon led all scorers with 28 points on 9-16 shooting from the field, while Carson finished with 21 points on 8-18 shooting to go along with his eight assists.
Felix and Gilling both recorded double-doubles for ASU. Felix finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Gilling concluded with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Sun Devils collectively shot 51 percent on 32-63 from the floor, while USC shot 49 percent, going 35-71 from the floor. They shot 28 three-pointers to ASU's 23.
The Sun Devils improve to (15-4; 4-2) on the season, and next host UCLA Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. (MT) from Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.