Six consecutive triples from Tra Holder and Shannon Evans over a 3:57 span lifted ASU basketball to a nostalgic 80-66 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes.
Down four with 10:52 remaining, the ASU men’s basketball team was in danger of losing another conference game at home.
After missing all 10 of their three-point attempts in the first half, it felt like the Sun Devils, much like the theme of their Pac-12 season, would be in store for another low scoring, grind-it-out type of game down the stretch.
Then, enough proved to finally be enough.
For the first time in conference play, the Sun Devils erupted for one of their signature offensive explosions, as a second half burst saw Shannon Evans and Tra Holder drain six consecutive three pointers in less than four minutes to give the Sun Devils a much-needed dose of confidence in their victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
It took some patience, but head coach Bobby Hurley knew that his team had this type of performance waiting to come out of the shadows of their nonconference season.
“It felt like a breakthrough,” said Hurley. “It looked like a lot of what I saw through a lot of the season with the spurts we were able to go on and the shot making that was happening.”
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Despite missing his first five three-point attempts, senior guard Shannon Evans has made a living off of huge second half performances, and tonight was no different. He had 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the three-point line in the final 20 minutes, looking to ignite the crowd after every shot that went through the net.
“I was trying to get back to having fun, sharing the ball and getting out in transition,” said Evans about his mindset. “I thought we found something in the second half that we could build on.”
In the second half, the Sun Devils tallied 48 points as a team, the most they’ve scored in a half during league play.
For Hurley, however, what impressed him the most wasn’t the fact that the Sun Devils laid down the three-point hammer. It was the defensive effort, which kept the Buffaloes turning the ball over, that allowed his team to get opportunities in the open floor.
“I loved our defensive effort for 40 minutes,” said Hurley. “It was probably our best [effort] in terms of our energy. We were very good in ball screen coverage today, and we were able to create 17 turnovers, and that’s kind of the activity that we had shown through most of the nonconference.”
Through eight games of Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils had been desperately looking to get back to the level of play they exhibited just one month ago. The lack of size, struggles of Holder and Evans and lack of rhythm had become the biggest storylines for this team over the past few weeks.
Tonight, the Sun Devils hope that their fourth win of conference play will be the one that turns the tide of their roller coaster of a season.
“I think the guys just had enough,” said Hurley. “They’re too talented and they’ve done too much this year and made so many big plays that they were due to all do it together, which they did in that second half.”
“It felt like the summer time, when we were in Barcelona,” added Evans. “That’s how were playing. Guys just kept making shots. To see a few go in and guys get momentum and confidence is always great to lead into Washington [next week].”
With the win, the Sun Devils improve to 16-5 (4-5 Pac-12) on the year, jumping from 10th to eighth place in the conference standings.
The Sun Devils will now get ready to hit the road again, as they’ll travel to take on Washington and Washington State next week.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.