ASU Basketball: Sun Devils “cash” in on miraculous win

TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 11: Shannon Evans II
TEMPE, AZ - JANUARY 11: Shannon Evans II /

Just when the time looked too bleak, ASU basketball finally broke away from their Pac-12 tendencies and prevailed in a late war against USC.

The moment felt all too familiar for Arizona State.

The Sun Devils, who had been trailing since the 6:23 mark in the first half, looked as if all hope had been lost. They were in the midst of an 0-for-5 shooting spell, and the somber aura of Wells Fargo Arena began to echo recent issues that wrote a tale of melancholy.

Twelve missed free throws. The inability to make shots. And most notably, the four uncontested three-pointers they gave up to Jonah Mathews and Bennie Boatwright in the closing minutes.

Like every preceding Wednesday and Thursday night of Pac-12 play, it felt like another loss was on the horizon for the Sun Devils.

Two minutes and 28 seconds later, that tale was gone.

For the first time in the front end of a Pac-12 week, the story of the Sun Devils’ 80-78 victory over USC won’t be about what they didn’t do; it’ll be about how they did it.

Shannon Evans, who modeled his hair with “Super Saiyan” look Thursday night, provided one of his signature explosions in the second half, scoring 17 points and the three-pointer from just inside the Sparky logo at midcourt to tie the game at 78.

When asked about the shot, Evans had only one word that went through his mind:

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After forcing a miss from Chimezie Metu, the Sun Devils had then had possession with, improbably, a chance to win the game.

With 11 seconds remaining, Tra Holder got a high ball screen from Romello White, attacked the left side of the lane and put up a floater that barely beat the outstretched arms of Metu.

Holder, like Evans before him, could only think one thing when his game-winning bucket left his hands:

“I knew that it was cash.”

Although Evans and Holder hold the moments that will stand out most from Thursday night, what coach Bobby Hurley will be able to remember is how his whole team cashed in down the stretch.

Remy Martin had two big steals. Romello White sealed key rebounds on the defensive end.

It was something that he’d been waiting to see.

“It feels like a blur, everything that happened,” Hurley said after the game. “I’m thrilled that you win a game like that, because we’ve been on the down-side of some close losses too. So it was great to get that victory.”

In the final possession of regulation, Hurley elected not to call a timeout to get his offense set. Instead, he was ready to cash in on his own knowledge from this season and under Mike Krzyzewski from his playing days.

“I’ve been in a lot of those situations,” Hurley said about the final play. “I know that my coach that I played for at Duke would not want to give the opponent the opportunity to make the defensive adjustment, especially after the momentum that we had.”

That momentum that the Sun Devils created has been absent thus far in their opening games of weeks of Pac-12 play. In recent losses against Stanford, Utah and Washington, it’s been the opposition that has been able to take hold of close games and find a way to put the nail in the coffin.

Instead of packing it in, the Sun Devils hit their final three shots, forced turnovers and got stops, proving they’re still worthy of a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Looking ahead, Arizona State will quickly turn their attention to the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, a team that is coming off of a stunning victory against Arizona at the McKale Center.

Despite the thrilling victory , all the Sun Devils are worried about now is leaving the week behind with their first sweep in the Hurley era.

“In reality, we know we got to win two,” Evans said. “We got a quick turnaround, so it’s cool to win this one, but our mindset was winning two, so we got to do that.”

The Bruins hold the Pac-12’s highest scoring offense at 83 points per game.

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

The Sun Devils and the Bruins will face off Saturday at 5 p.m. MST as the game can be viewed on Pac-12 Network.

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