It’s the time of year for college basketball teams that want to make it to NCAA Tournament to start making their statement by winning games that they should win. That scenario was on display at Wells Fargo Arena Thursday night when the Arizona State Sun Devils demolished the Oregon State Beavers in Pac-12 Conference play by a score of 86-68.
Coming into this game both teams had very average records and were teetering on becoming irrelevant for the rest of the year, so this game had plenty of importance for both the Sun Devils and Beavers. Fortunately, for Sun Devil fans, their team showed up to play. The Devils started the game out by hitting a three-point basket and from there on out it was a blowout. Arizona State could not miss, the Sun Devils shot 46 percent from beyond the arch and 60 percent from the field. When you hit 11 three-pointers things turn out well for you and for ASU it was a welcomed sight because they had gone through a stretch where they had come out slow and it affected them the rest of the game.
Not Thursday night. The Sun Devils looked like a team fighting for a tournament berth and trying to make a “We are not dead” statement.
“It’s a good feeling right now to see the team play that way.” Said Head Coach Bobby Hurley. “I thought we had great energy and getting deflections, generating stops and then that probably didn’t put as much pressure on our offense and we had a lot of guys playing well and contributing.”
The Sun Devils had five guys in double figures and 24 assists on 32 field goals. It was an impressive display of offense by a team that has had a very up and down year to this point in the season.
On the other side of the coin was Oregon State which could not hit a shot in the first half and struggled to score 17 points in the half. The Beavers ended up shooting 19 percent in that first half. They had shots just roll off the rim, rattle in and out basket, and some were just bad shots. You are not going to win when that is happening to your team.
Oregon State was looking to capitalize on their big upset win over the USC Trojans last week in Corvallis. However, they could not get any offense generated. The hole that they dug themselves was too much to overcome and there was nothing that Beaver Head Coach Wayne Tinkle could do to prevent the loss.
The Beavers only shot 38 percent from the free throw line which may have been a direct result of them being distracted by the “Curtain of Distraction” that ASU employs when the opposing team is at the line. The Devils actually had Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps jump out from behind the curtain to jump around in his speedo to distract the Beavers at the line. It worked to perfection because Oregon State missed both free throws while Phelps was there. The crowd went crazy when they realized it was Phelps and the amount of noise that was heard is probably only heard when the Arizona Wildcats come to town to play.
Do the Sun Devils turn this performance into something that causes their season to turn around? Possibly. They do have some tough teams coming up on the schedule. They play Oregon on Sunday evening, travel to the Washington schools next weekend, and still have Arizona, USC, UCLA, and Utah left to play. That is a tough road to conquer, but anything is possible at this point in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils gave their fans a glimmer of hope to hang their hat on, lets just hope the Sun Devils don’t cause their fans to hang themselves with that hat. Forks Up!