ASU basketball will have more ground to cover this week, as Washington, USC and Utah stand above the Devils in the Pac-12 standings.
Sometimes, the difference between winning and losing can be razor thin. For Arizona State, it came down to 24 seconds.
Up one in Saturday’s clash with USC, the game rested in the hands of senior Zylan Cheatham. With two made free throws, his team would likely secure its first conference road sweep since 2010. If he didn’t, chaos would have its chance.
Shooting the front end of a one-and-one, Cheatham took a few dribbles, locked on the rim and released his foul shot. ASU had made 22 of its previous 24 attempts, but this one misfired, landing in the arms of the Trojans’ Derryck Thornton.
He advanced to the frontcourt, waiting for leading scorer Bennie Boatwright to curl off a ball screen. Thornton found the 6-foot-10 senior, who turned and made the game-clinching 3-pointer, extending the Sun Devils’ road curse.
With its three-game win streak expired, ASU dropped to a tie with Arizona for fourth in the league standings. The Wildcats, who suffered its worst Pac-12 week under Sean Miller, will be in Tempe this Thursday, looking to extend a six-game win streak in the rivalry series.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Pac-12 has taken shape. Washington is elite, evident in its road comeback against Oregon and the play of Jaylen Nowell. Coach Larry Krystkowiak is excelling with a once-lost Utah squad, reaching third in the conference standings despite a 6-6 out-of-league record. And USC, Boatwright and Nick Rakocevic are making the most of the veterans and young stars on their roster.
Now a third of the way through conference play, we’re starting to see teams create separation. But that doesn’t mean things are entirely set in stone. Let’s take a look at this week’s Conference Power Rankings.