Sun Devils Shock Wildcats, Win Thriller


You can say all you want about Herb Sendek’s time in Tempe, but one thing is certain, his teams get up for games against top opponents at Wells Fargo Arena.

For the second straight year, Sendek’s Sun Devils upset a top-10 Arizona squad, this time by a score of 81-78 in front of a packed house in Tempe.

Unlike the last game between these two teams in Tucson, ASU got off to a good start right out of the gates. The Sun Devils dominated play throughout most of the first 20 minutes of play and led by seven points as the two teams headed to the locker room.

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Things would tighten up in the second half though as Arizona was able to draw within a basket several times during the final 20 minutes, but they were never able to take a lead and control of the game. Things got a little too interesting late in the game if you were a Devils fan, but they were able to hold off a late charge from the Wildcats.

Four different ASU players reached double-digit point totals with Bo Barnes setting a career-high with 18 points. The senior guard went 8-of-8 from the charity stripe and hit a huge three-pointer late in the second half to put the game out of reach.

Savon Goodman had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Tra Holder and Gerry Blakes chipped in with 15 points and 14 points respectively.

After this huge win over their arch rival, the Sun Devils will head out to the Evergreen State next week to play Washington State and Washington on Friday and Sunday. Friday’s tip from Pullman will be at 9 PM Arizona time.

The Good

Feb 7, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils fans celebrate on the court after defeating the Arizona Wildcats at Wells-Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils won 81-78. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Let me start out by saying, that crowd was fantastic. In most of the games in recent years, you see a ton of red and blue in the crowd and you saw it somewhat today, but nothing like years past. Job well done Devils fans.

Considering the opponent they played, I think that this game was this team’s best offensive effort of the season. This was only the second time this year that Arizona has given up 80+ points in a game, the other coming against Stanford last month. Shooting 50 percent from the field, including 47 percent from three-point land, against a team has good as the Wildcats are defensively is something to be extremely happy about going forward.

It’s great to see that Sendek finally put Goodman into the starting lineup because it was long overdue. It was much-needed in this one considering how big Arizona’s front line is. Goodman did much more than hold his own in this one with barely missing out on a double-double.

ASU did a great job of keeping Arizona away from the free-throw line. Heading into this one, Arizona was 11th in the country in attempts from the charity stripe and their first attempt didn’t until 15 minutes into this game. That was a major key in this one.

Staying on that same topic, the Sun Devils did a great job of making the most of their attempts from the free-throw line. One of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country (269th to be exact), the Devils made of 22 of their 28 attempts. The only question I have is where has that been all season long?

The Bad

Feb 7, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils guard Tra Holder (0) reacts after a basket against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With how big of an upset this was, I’m not really going to be picky, but allowing 18 offensive rebounds to the Wildcats is way too high of a total. Now, obviously the Cats have a bigger front line, but that’s still too much. Luckily for the Devils, the Wildcats missed their fair share of easy baskets in the paint.

Holder had a real nice game with 15 points to go along with eight assists, but he’s going to have to continue working on his jump shot. Going 3-of-10 from the field as a point guard most of the time isn’t going to get the job done. He’s a freshman though so he’s going to have plenty of time to work on his game, but there’s a lot to like with him.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Curtain of Distraction. Those guys are hilarious in what they do and it’s one of the most different things in college basketball. However, wouldn’t it make a little more sense to put some pretty girls behind the curtain to distract the opposing team? I was on the Tempe campus for two years. I know there’s plenty of them.