Devils Take Down Second-Ranked 'Cats

After being forced to miss the two teams' previous match-up in Tucson last month, Jermaine Marshall made his presence felt on Friday night, scoring a game and season-high 29 points, including eight points in the second overtime to help Arizona State upset Arizona 69-66.

Trailing 63-59 following the second of two Aaron Gordon lay-ups to open the second overtime period, Jermaine Marshall buried one of his four three point baskets on the night to pull the Sun Devils within one with 1:33 to play. After a pair of Caleb Tarczewski free throws to push the Arizona lead back to three, Marshall evened the score the score at 65 with his second consecutive three point makes.

Junior Jon Gilling though, was whistled for foul on the ensuing possession, sending Gordon back to the free throw line where the freshman missed the first of two but was able to give the Wildcats a one point lead with 36 seconds after converting his second attempt.

But with the game on the line, Head Coach put the ball back in Marshall's hands and the senior came through in the clutch once again for the Sun Devils (19-6, 8-4 Pac-12), as the senior muscled his way past Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for an acrobatic lay-up and the eventual game-winner with 14.7 seconds to go.

"The play was set up for a three, but he played it pretty close and played it well," said Marshall after the game. "He had been playing great defense all game and fortunately I ran into him up tight and was able to get by him."

Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell quickly pushed the ball up the floor but had his driving shot in the lane sent away by Bachynski as sophomore Jahii Carson raced down the court for a two handed slam dunk and the exclamation mark on the biggest win of the season for the Sun Devils.

"Honestly, when Jermaine made that lay-up and we were getting back on defense, I knew there wasn't much time on the clock and I really did say to myself, 'Big block, big block.'" said Bachynski. "Like, I knew they were going to try for a lay-up because they needed it and that'd be the easiest thing so I saw him come right down the middle and I hustled over and I jumped and I felt it was a little bit late but I must have got it right at the peak."

"And then for Jahii to pick it up and dunk it at the other end to expand the lead, there's no words to describe that."

Marshall, who entered the game averaging 20.2 points over the team's last four contests, was one of three Sun Devils in double figures on Friday. He paced Arizona State from start to finish, notching a season-high 29 points on 11-23 shooting with five rebounds.

"Jermaine is just incredible," remarked Sendek. "It just seems like, the bigger the moment, regardless of what's happened previously, he has an amazing capacity to make a big play and be at his best when the game is on the line. He's just shown tremendous courage down the homestretch of games."

Students immediately rushed the floor following Carson's slam but were forced back to their seats as the officials put 0.7 seconds back on the clock, allowing the Wildcats one last attempt to force a third time. But Johnson's last second heave came up short, sending Wells Fargo Arena into a frenzy.

"I guess we do well in overtime," said senior Jordan Bachynski. "We love playing with each other. We work hard and we cover for each other. We're not a selfish team on offense or defense and nothing else needs to be said. We worked hard and we played against a phenomenal team tonight. There's a reason they're second in the country and no words can explain the joy that we feel right now and that is huge for us."

For the second consecutive game and the third time this season, Bachynski came through late on the defensive end to help propel the Sun Devils to victory. After denying Oregon's Joseph Young at the rim last Saturday, he was able to turn away McConnell with one of his eight blocks on the night. The center also added 13 points and seven rebounds and was 7-11 from the free throw line in the win.

"Again, sometimes when something becomes common you stop paying attention to it, but Jordan Bachynski had eight blocks," commented Sendek. "And we're not talking two or three or four blocks; we're talking nine against Oregon and eight tonight. That's crazy. And obviously it was the third game that he put the exclamation point on our victory, last possession blocked shot; Marquette, Oregon, and Arizona."

Similar to their first meeting earlier this season, Arizona State struggled offensively in the first half against the Wildcats, shooting just 8-27 from the floor in the first half as they trailed by five at the break. This time though, they were able to match the defensive effort of Arizona (23-2, 10-2 Pac-12), limiting the Wildcats to just 8-24 shooting in the second half and 36% for the game.

Arizona out-rebounded the Sun Devils 54-35, including 18 offensive rebounds, but was limited to just five second chance points while Arizona State outscored the Wildcats 28-26 in the paint.

"The most incredible thing to me when I look at the stat sheet though, is to be out-rebounded as badly as we were and to still be in the game," said Sendek. "We knew going in that that was the first, second, and third key to winning. There might not have even been a fourth, fifth, and sixth; we had to rebound and we really had a struggle doing that."

Arizona was led by McConnell, who was one of four Wildcats in double figures. The senior finished 17 points and five assists. Johnson added 14 points on 5-20 shooting for the Wildcats while Gordon and Tarczewski each finished with 13 points apiece.

Friday's victory marks the highest rated team the Sun Devils have ever beaten at home and their first over a top five Arizona team since 1992. The game featured 16 lead changes and nine ties while neither team led by more than six throughout the full 48 minutes.

In the end though, the Sun Devils padded their postseason resume with one of the biggest wins in the Pac-12 this season. And in the end, it called for a celebration.

"I remember every year the crowd does the 'A-S-U' and then the 'U-of-A' chant and it's always a battle to see who's louder and honestly, this is the first year that I heard the 'A-S-U' louder than the 'U-of-A,'" said Bachynski. "I am so happy and honored to be a part of a program that has so much support. UofA does a really good job traveling with their fans and now we do a phenomenal job of getting our fans in the seats and it was unreal the energy that the crowd brought."

"The student section, I've never been in arena with such a great student section. It is a great feeling to have such energy in or building."

Arizona State returns to action next week when the Sun Devils travel to Colorado on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 9:00 Arizona time.

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