Junior guard Evan Gordon didn’t see the result of the game’s final shot.
He felt his game-winning layup sink through the cylinder to give Arizona State a 63-62 overtime win over Colorado Saturday.
The rest of his team saw the ball bounce on the back rim before it rolled in as time expired.
“I just saw the bench get up and tackle me,” Gordon said in a postgame radio interview.
The little dance the ball did once it left Gordon’s hands kept ASU (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) alive in “The Big Dance.” Its shot at a tournament was in jeopardy coming off a loss to Utah Wednesday, and it looked as if ASU would fall on the road again.
Up 61-60 with 24 seconds left, senior wing Carrick Felix missed two free throws in overtime. The Buffaloes (17-8, 7-6 Pac-12) took the lead on the next possession on sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s bank shot on the low block.
The Sun Devils wanted to get redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson in an isolation situation with 8.3 seconds left, but Colorado doubled team him.
Carson passed to Gordon, who drove right on senior guard Sabatino Chen. Gordon, who came off the bench for the first time this season, somehow got the ball out before junior forward Andre Roberson came over to help. Gordon saved NCAA Tournament chances in the process.
Gordon talked about making the transition to the bench in this game.
“I had to keep making myself believe I just came out the game, so when I went back in I felt like it was just another rotation,” he said. “Throughout my life, I haven’t really came off the bench much. It was an emotional victory and we dug it out.”
Gordon scored 14 points, on 5-of-10 shooting, off the bench.
The Sun Devils shot 47.9 percent from the floor. They were able to attack the paint early with junior center Jordan Bachynski’s aggressiveness. But they got away from it in the second half and settled for three-pointers. They were 7-of-22 on three-pointers Saturday, and Gordon made four.
Colorado wasn’t any better from the floor, shooting 35.7 percent, but it knocked down 16 of its 18 attempted free throws.
Sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie had a game-high 24 points on 4-of-12 shooting and made all 14 free throw attempts to keep Colorado in a sloppy game.
Dinwiddie also made the game-tying assist to freshman forward Xavier Johnson with two seconds left in regulation. It capped a 6-0 run Colorado ended the game with to force overtime.
ASU only scored nine points in overtime, but got the job done.
Gordon and Carson combined for seven of the team’s nine points in the extra period. Carson finished with a team-high 20 points, on 7-of-10 shooting and four assists in 43 minutes.
“It wasn’t pretty,” assistant coach Dedrique Taylor said. “It wasn’t something that we’re going to go home and put on the wall as art, but we’ll take that dub (win) any day of the week.”
Colorado was 42-5 under coach Tad Boyle at the Coors Events Center before Saturday’s contest.
The Sun Devils will return home for their final two games at Wells Fargo Arena this season against Washington and Washington State.
Most importantly, it’ll return home with a better chance of making the NCAA Tournament after this win.
“We didn’t play smart, and it wasn’t pretty, but those are the types of games we have to win if we plan to play in the postseason,” Taylor said.
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