ASU Basketball: Sun Devils beat USC on Holder’s game-winner

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 17: Tra Holder
TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 17: Tra Holder /

ASU basketball defeated the USC Trojans 80-78 on a Tra Holder game-winner in one of the season’s most dramatic victories.

The USC Trojans led Thursday night’s Pac-12 matchup for 25 consecutive minutes. The Trojans held the lead from the 7:34 mark in the first half until only 1:36 remained to play in the second half. This Pac-12 game had the feel of another heartbreaking loss for the now unranked Sun Devils.

Until it wasn’t.

Senior guard Shannon Evans II finished off another sensational second half (17 points) with a game-tying 3-pointer with 45 seconds to play.

“Cash. Net,” Evans said when describing what went through his head when he released the shot. “I was just reacting, I felt like the ball was going in for me in the second half and I had some room. Cash.”

Evans’ sensational aggression in the second half put Tra Holder in position to win the game for ASU, and that’s just what he did.

Holder caped off the dramatic comeback victory with a game-winning floater that gives ASU its second consecutive Pac-12 win for the first time this season.

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“I knew as soon as I released it that it was going in,” Holder continued, “I knew it was cash.”

The made floater from Holder gave ASU a lead they would not relinquish. Once again, the Sun Devils reminded us of their resilience.

ASU has come back from being down at halftime seven times this season. ASU closed tonight’s matchup on a 12-2 run over the final 3:20 and showed the nation they’re not ready to go away.

“You have to become more perfect in that situation with the deficit,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “When you have the heart, and the will to win that, you know, especially our seniors have, and they lead the way.”

Evans and Holder finished the night with a combined total of 43 points, over half of the Sun Devils scoring total. The dynamic duo that built “Guard U” has lifted the Sun Devils back to .500 in conference play and an 18-6 overall record.

“Every game is crucial,” Evans said. “I know we’re five hundred in conference and we did great out of conference. But nothing matters anymore, its game by game.”

Bennie Boatwright and Nick Rakocevic were huge for the Trojans. The big man pairing combined to score 37 points on the night. Rakocevic, a 54 percent free-throw shooter, shot 7-of-10 from the line and carried the Trojans throughout the first half.

For the Sun Devils this victory against the No. 3 team in the Pac-12 marks a high point in conference play. Their victory over USC is only the first of their daunting three-game stretch against the Pac-12’s top three seeds.

The Sun Devils have a quick turn around and play the UCLA Bruins in Tempe on Saturday followed by a matchup with arch-rival and conference leader, the University of Arizona.

Next: ASU Basketball: 2018 Pac-12 Week 6 Power Rankings

For the Sun Devils it’s now or never. Each and every game matters from this point out both for conference standing, and Tournament seeding.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.