The Morning After: ASU holds off USC in overtime

A look back at ASU’s 98-93 overtime win over USC Thursday:

 

The comeback 

What a game. This game looked out of reach when the Sun Devils were up nine with 2:51 left, but the Trojans came back due to ASU’s poor free throw shooting and some incredible shots by USC.

Junior guard J.T. Terrell made two unbelievable three pointers that were from 30 feet. He nailed his second shot with 13 shots left to make it 84-82. Sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling had the ball on the inbounds play but passed it up to senior wing Carrick Felix. Gilling is a much better free throw shooter and probably should’ve held on to the ball. Felix went on to split his free throw attempts.

The Sun Devils are up 85-82 with eight seconds left and the debate was whether ASU should foul to avoid another ridiculous three-point attempt to go through and force overtime.

“I honestly never thought about fouling with 7.8 (seconds),” coach Herb Sendek said. “I’ve been on both ends of so many games and seen it go both ways. If they’re going to make that shot, you’re going into overtime.”

USC made it. Trojans senior guard Jio Fontan capped off a string of unbelievable shots with the most ridiculous one of them all.

Sendek’s description of the shot: “I don’t know, I’d have to see the tape, but it look like he put the ball somewhere behind his head. I knew he wasn’t going to make it when he put it back there, but the way things were going, I knew it was in.”

Sendek made the right call by not fouling late in the game. The Sun Devils couldn’t have contested that shot any better, but it still went in. The credit goes to Fontan for making that tough shot.

 

Dreadful defense

Take away all those contested shots late in the game, and it was a bad defensive night for both teams. Both teams shot around 50 percent in the game. The Trojans shot 51.6 percent in the first half.

Similar to the way they tied the game at the end of regulation, the Trojans went on a 13-5 run during the last 3:45 of the first half to tie the game 42-42 at halftime. Senior forward Eric Wise scored his eight first half points during the stretch to bring the Trojans back down eight.

“I don’t think we were anywhere near good enough on defense,” Sendek said. “We kept talking at timeouts that our offense was really in sync and we were playing well, but we couldn’t get any separation because we couldn’t get any stops.”

 

Impact of Colvin’s absence

Senior guard Chris Colvin did not play Thursday. It’s the second game he’s missed during his suspension and his status for Saturday’s contest against UCLA is unknown.

“I have no further update on Chris,” Sendek said.

Without Colvin, redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson and junior guard Evan Gordon played over 40 minutes. Gordon played the entire game. He had a game-high 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He’s scored in double-figures for three straight games.

“I’m coming around shaking off the rust and playing with this guy (Carson),” Gordon said.

Carson had 21 points and eight assists. He picked up his second foul with 4:40 left in the first half. He sat out for the final 3:45 in the first half when the Trojans went on their run to the tie the game at halftime.

He didn’t pick up his third and final foul until 1:43 left in the second half. Carson was in foul trouble throughout ASU’s matchup against UA last week and it hurt the team on both ends.

“I like to go up there and really bother the point guards on their jump shots, but that’s starting to cause me fouls,” Carson said. “Once I get into foul trouble, I’m sitting there and can’t help my team as much. In the second half I just learned to keep my hands down and try to check them with my body and not so much with my hands and keep them in front.”

 

Felix bounces back

Senior wing Carrick Felix had another double-double and it gets buried by other game stories Thursday.

Everything is back to normal.

Felix scored 16 points, on 5-of-10 shooting, and grabbed 10 rebounds in 44 minutes. He was very confident during the week he’d bounce back and he did. It’s remarkable how far he’s come this season. Those flat games against UA were common for Felix in the past, but it seems this season, those games are rare.

Along with Felix, sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling picked up a double-double. He had a strange night: 13 points on 3-of-8 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists in 42 minutes. All four guys that played 40 or more minutes contributed somehow to the win. We’ll see what kind of impact that has Saturday against UCLA.

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu