ASU men’s basketball players reflect on fans rushing court in UA win

Before Friday’s men’s basketball game between ASU and No. 2 UA finally ended, there were about three minutes of pandemonium.

After ASU redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson dunked the ball to give ASU a 69-66 lead with 0.7 seconds left in double overtime, the ASU bench and the student section flooded the court, obviously unaware that there was still time left on the clock. Fans and players celebrated while the officials tried to sort out the madness.

The fans eventually returned to their seats. The party at midcourt resumed when UA junior guard Nick Johnson rimmed out his shot from near halfcourt.

 
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The ASU players got a good laugh about being in the center of both crowd rushes during the postgame press conference. It was first time they’ve ever seen the fans at Wells Fargo Arena storm the court.

“I think (senior guard) Jermaine (Marshall) got crushed,” senior center Jordan Bachynski said.

“I got crushed,” Carson said. “That’s why I was hanging on the rim, then someone came up to me. (Jermaine) is claustrophobic.”

“Yeah, I was so scared,” Marshall said.

“(Jermaine) said, ‘Don’t let them do that to me, man,’ ” Carson said. “I said, ‘Ah, they did that to me too.’ ”

The players admitted they didn’t know what was happening the first time. Neither did ASU coach Herb Sendek. As the fans rushed the court the first time, Sendek said he already shook UA coach Sean Miller’s hand.

“I was ready to leave the court, and all of the sudden, I was stunned and was like, ‘Why is nobody leaving?’ ” Sendek said. “I didn’t know what was going on until it was explained to me. My first concern was, did someone run onto the court and did they call a technical?”

Because the fans left early, should the referees have called a technical foul against ASU? Here’s Rule 8, Section 2, Article 8 from the NCAA basketball rulebook:

“Delaying the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play, such as but not limited to, followers entering the playing court before the player activity has been terminated. When the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored, and play shall be continued or be resumed at the point of interruption.”

The referees actually called the play dead after Carson’s dunk, so a technical foul wasn’t necessary because the fans technically didn’t interrupt live play.

It’s not the first time this season UA watched the opposing fans rush the court early. The same thing happened Feb. 1 at California when students stormed the court after senior guard Justin Cobbs’ game-winner with 0.9 seconds left. California did not receive a technical foul either.

There was also some question whether the referees should’ve assessed Carson a technical foul for excessively hanging on the rim after the dunk. Officials would allow players to hang on the rim only if there is another player underneath him, and junior forward Jonathan Gilling came under Carson when he dunked it. Redshirt junior guard Bo Barnes then pulled Carson down as the fans stormed the court.

 

Bachynski still filling up blocks column

Over the past four games, Bachynski has had 26 blocks and has averaged 6.5 a night.

For the season, Bachynski is the nation’s leader in blocks, averaging 4.6 per game. Only 76 of 351 teams in Division I college basketball average more than him.

“If someone gets four blocked shots, you’re like, ‘Wow,’ ” Sendek said. “If you average 3.2 blocked shots, it’s like ‘Double wow.’ The numbers he’s putting up in that area, we may never see again. It’s incredible.”

 

Tournament bound

Forget that Friday’s win was huge for ASU because it was over UA. It was a victory over the team with the second-highest RPI in the nation.

With big wins over Colorado, Oregon and California earlier in the season, ASU no longer appears to be a team on the bubble at the moment. Many college basketball analysts, including ESPN’s Dick Vitale, expect ASU to be in the NCAA Tournament this season, and it would take a collapse in the remaining schedule for the Sun Devils to come back down.

With Pac-12 games still going on this weekend, ASU is currently third in the conference standings. The Sun Devils are just one game behind UCLA and two under UA as the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas begins March 12.

 

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion