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Sun Devils advance to second round of Pac-12 Tournament, will face No. 1 seed Oregon

Arizona State shot 55.9 percent from the field and made 22 of 25 free throws to down the Cardinal in the Pac-12 Tournament opener.

LAS VEGAS — It wouldn't be a trip to Las Vegas for Arizona State without squandering a second half lead. 

Only this time, ASU emerged victorious. 

Forced into overtime in the Pac-12 Tournament opener against Stanford after leading by 12 points with 11:03 in the second half, the Sun Devils overpowered the Cardinal, shooting lights out from behind the arc in overtime in a 98-88 win. 

"Even in overtime, I trusted that we were going to get it done and find another gear," ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. 

In overtime, ASU had three different players make three three-pointers in a row, displaying the offensive firepower that led to the highest-scoring game in Pac-12 tournament history with both teams combining for 186 points. 

In the new venue of the Pac-12 Tournament, T-Mobile Arena, the Sun Devils were able to overcome their poor tournament history and will advance to play No. 1 seed Oregon in the second round of the tournament on Thursday at noon PT/ 1 p.m. MT.

ASU's tournament win is its fourth in 16 seasons in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Sun Devils had a Pac-12 worst 3-14 record before the Pac-12 Tournament resumed in 2002 and won only two games in the last 15 seasons in the tournament. Three times in the last eight years they had lost after giving up a double-digit lead in the second half. 

"To respond and keep playing well and putting them away was a tribute to how they have been competing and battling this whole Pac-12 season," Hurley said. 

"I just trust my team and I believe in them. They have given me every reason to believe in them." 

With the win, ASU improved to 15-17 overall. Stanford dropped to 14-17. 

Before regulation ended in a 81-81 gridlock, Stanford had many opportunities to down the Sun Devils, but were unable to connect after shooting 46.6 percent from the field. Stanford's Reid Travis led the Cardinal with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and grabbed down nine rebounds. 

After Stanford led 14-13 early in the first half, it was unable to ever catch the Sun Devils, until its opportunity struck with 21.7 seconds left in regulation.

Down 81-79 with the ball, Stanford junior forward Michael Humphrey rose up with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation and nailed a jumper. ASU junior guard Tra Holder had a last ditch three-point attempt, but it hit off the back of the rim and out. 

"I felt like we had the emotion going out way going into the overtime period," Humphrey said. "Give them credit. They played well in overtime."   

Holder scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the game. He delivered late after Stanford pulled to within one point with five minutes remaining in regulation, making back-to-back driving baseline layups - the second a three-point play - to fend off an early Stanford run. 

"I just remember my last two years (in the Pac-12 Tournament) we had the lead and froze up and didn't find a way to win the game and I try to make plays for the team and luckily I made some shots," Holder said. "I think as a point guard you have to make game winning plays." 

ASU swept the Cardinal this year, winning 98-93 in Palo Alto to start the league season on Dec. 30, and then posted a comeback 75-69 win on Feb. 11 in Tempe. The last time Stanford and ASU met in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cardinal won, 79-58, as a No. 6 seed over No. 3 seeded ASU in the quarterfinals.

But it was a different result on Wednesday. 

ASU senior center Obinna Oleka led the Sun Devils with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, 9-of-9 from the free throw line and 13 rebounds.

"Obi plays with a lot of passion and someone could always be on his poster," Hurley said. "He has that type of explosiveness to the rim."

The Sun Devils shot 55.9 percent of the field on 33-of-59 shooting. ASU out-rebounded the Cardinal 35-30 - a rarity this season with its lack of length and size down low. ASU's starters combined to score 96 out of its 98 points in the game. 

"Five shooters out there and four playmakers," Stanford head coach Jarod Haase said. "There is great spacing and it becomes very difficult. Our strength is our size and (being) gritty and tough, but when you are chasing and trying to guard dribble penetration it becomes difficult." 

Dribble penetration hurt the Cardinal as it sent ASU to the free throw line 25 times, and ASU made 22 of them. The Cardinal only made it to the line 14 times and made 10 free throws. 

At halftime, ASU was up 50-42, stretching it to a 14-point game twice in the first half. The Sun Devils shot 60 percent from the field with Oleka leading the Sun Devils at halftime with 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and was 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

"Obi is a matchup nightmare for people because of the mobility and his quickness and the physically," Hurley said. "The combination of size and quickness and ability to go away from the basket." 

Stanford shot 47.1 percent from the field on 16-of-34 shooting from the field and had 12 assists on 16 made baskets.

The Sun Devils were tenacious on the defensive end throughout the game, forcing eight turnovers, but moreso creating deflections which caused disruptions in Stanford’s offense. 

Things were looking good for ASU early on, with Oleka hitting a three-pointer for ASU’s second basket of the night, despite shooting .242 from three-point range on the year.

Looking ahead to Oregon, the Sun Devils only faced the Ducks once this season, losing 71-70 on Feb. 2 in Eugene, Oregon in a game that saw 15 lead changes and 9 ties. 

"I think that was our game to win," Holder said. "But in the stretch Dillion Brooks took it over and he was the player of the year."


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