(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
The Arizona State Sun Devils made big plays down the stretch and survived to get a tough 79-77 win over the Creighton Blue Jays in Omaha.
After allowing Creighton to shoot 6-for-12 from deep in the first half, the Sun Devils went into the half down 41-33. They quickly made up the deficit with a 14-4 run to start the second half. Junior forward Savon Goodman scored eight of his 23 in the first 3 minutes of the second half and ASU tied the game up at 47.
Both teams traded buckets for the rest of the game with neither team leading by more than five points. With 1:22 left, Creighton sophomore forward Toby Hegner nailed a three to put the Blue Jays up 77-75. After back-to-back empty possessions, Goodman was able to draw a foul with 19 seconds left and make the first free throw to cut into the lead.
Goodman missed the second free throw and sophomore guard Tra Holder stole the rebound and put it up to draw a goaltend, putting ASU up 78-77. Creighton junior forward Cole Huff drew a foul with seven seconds left but missed both free throws. After senior forward Willie Atwood split a pair of free throws on the other end, Huff missed an open three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sun Devils the 79-77 victory.
Player of the Game: Savon Goodman
Goodman was feeling it from the floor against Creighton. He attacked the basket on drives and finished through contact. His biggest contribution was on the offensive glass as he grabbed six boards and capitalized on the second-chance points. Goodman finished with 23 points on 10-for-13 shooting and seven rebounds.
Biggest Concern: Perimeter defense
The Sun Devils did not do their best when it came to chasing Creighton away from the three-point line. They gave up a lot of open shots from the perimeter. Whether it was bad transition defense or second-chance opportunities, ASU gave up a plethora of good looks and Creighton knocked them down. The Blue Jays went 11-for-23 from behind the arc for the game and a couple of three-pointers down the stretch almost cost ASU the win.
Unsung Hero: Tra Holder
Holder had a decent game and came up big when it mattered. With 18 seconds left and down by one, Holder was able to strip the rebound from Isaiah Zierden and get it up on the glass to force a goaltending call. The basket put ASU up for good. Holder finished the game with eight points, eight assists, and two rebounds.
Stat of the Night: 52 percent shooting from the field
The Sun Devils shot well during the game, going 31-for-60 from the field. This was their second best shooting performance of the season, trailing only the .524 percent they shot against Kennesaw State. Making shots became important in this fairly high-scoring game and although Creighton shot pretty well, ASU matched them.
The Sun Devils take on no. 18 Texas A&M on Saturday in Tempe.