It rained steadily all day yesterday in the Phoenix area, a fairly rare occurrence in these parts.
Fortunately, the rain ended prior to the start of Thursday night’s Pac-12 basketball match-up between Arizona State and Southern California in Tempe.
Well, not exactly.
There were plenty of showers inside Wells Fargo Arena, as the Trojans (8-12, 3-4 Pac-12) launched a downpour of three-point buckets to force ASU into a thrilling overtime finale. Arizona State ultimately prevailed 98-93 in a game highlighted by plenty of offensive fireworks, and a determined effort by Sun Devil guard Evan Gordan.
“Can you believe what we just witnessed out there?” Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek asked in his post-game press conference. “That was incredible…I’m still mesmerized.”
The Sun Devils, who now stand at 15-4 (4-2 Pac-12), put on a clinic showcasing their new up-tempo style of basketball. ASU’s 98 points were a season high, with Gordon posting 28 points — his second best scoring total of the year. He was also effective from the charity stripe, making seven of his nine free throws.
“He’s a good player,” Sendek said of Gordon, a junior. “I just kept sticking with him early on because I’ve seen him play in practice all last year. I’ve seen what he can do. Tonight, he played a heck of a game for us.”
ASU freshman point-guard Jahii Carson contributed 21 points on the night, and senior wing Carrick Felix added 16 points of his own to help fuel the Sun Devil victory. Point-guard Jio Fontan scored 25 to pace USC.
Defense was obviously in short supply in this contest. Southern California’s three-point shots were relentless and both teams took full advantage of their fast-pace offensive playbooks. The Trojans scored a season-high 42 first quarter points under new head coach Bob Cantu.
Carson said, “It’s definitely the type of style we like to play, except for them scoring as much as us. It was a fast tempo game. We like teams that try to run up and down with us because that plays into our hands.”
Arizona State will have little time to rest after its big win, with UCLA (16-4, 6-1 Pac-12) visiting on Saturday afternoon. The Bruins are coming off an 84-73 upset of the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson.