ASU men's basketball overcomes 22 point deficit, defeats UA 66-65

The comeback was the largest by the Sun Devils this season

ASU men’s basketball overcame a 22 point deficit in game two of the 2020 Territorial Cup series, defeating No. 22 UA 66-65 on a go-ahead layup by junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr.

Junior guard Remy Martin led the comeback with 24 points — his seventh straight game with at least 20 points scored.

Redshirt senior guard Rob Edwards notched 15 points and Verge Jr. had 13 including the game-winner with nine seconds remaining.

“This is what we are supposed to be. This is Arizona State,” Martin said. “It shows the character and the team that we have… We are expected to do this.”

What began as a back and forth battle from beyond the arc in the first half quickly turned into a vigorous display of physicality below the rim.

ASU (12-7, 3-3 Pac-12) and UA (13-6, 3-3) combined for six attempts from three through just the first minute and a half of action.

The momentum of the game then shifted as both offenses began to attack the paint, with Martin leading the charge inside for the Sun Devils. Martin would finish the first half with a team-high 11 points.

UA put together a dominant offensive surge in the first half, notching a 22-1 scoring run to build a 21-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining.

Freshman guard Nico Mannion and freshman forward Zeke Nnaji led the first half onslaught for the Wildcats, combining for 25 points, including four 3-pointers from Mannion. The Wildcats finished the half shooting 50% from deep and led by as much as 22 points.

The biggest struggle for the Sun Devils in the half was rebounding, as the team was out-rebounded 26-16, including 22-13 on the defensive end.

ASU showed signs of life down the stretch, ending the half with a 6-0 run and forcing 10 UA turnovers. The Sun Devils headed into halftime trailing 43-30.

"When we play as a team, as a unit, that is when we get things done the most," Edwards said. "We needed to win the last three minutes (of the half), and that is what we did."

The team’s momentum carried on into the second half, as Martin got off to a hot start with seven straight points to lead an 10-0 for ASU run to lessen the deficit to just one possession.

The Sun Devils flipped the script in what became a tight contest, limiting the Wildcats to 28% shooting in the half and claiming a 24-17 rebounding advantage.

With just over four minutes remaining in the game, Martin scooped and scored a go-ahead layup to give ASU its first lead since the 13 minute mark in the first half.

It was in the final possession that Verge Jr. found an open lane and sank a right-handed layup off the glass with nine seconds remaining to give the Sun Devils a one-point lead.

“(Martin) gave it to me and trusted that I was going to make the play,” Verge Jr. said. “When we come together the way we have, it is really hard to beat us.”

ASU played tight defense on UA in the remaining seconds, forcing a missed jumper by freshman guard Josh Green to seal the comeback victory.

The win was the largest comeback margin of the season for the Sun Devils and the team’s second straight Territorial Cup victory in Tempe.

“It was a pretty special night out there,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “It wasn’t shaping up that way early, but we showed our will, determination and grit to stay in the fight.”

ASU goes on the road next for a two-game series, beginning with a matchup against Washington State on Jan. 29 at 9:00 p.m. MST.


Reach the reporter at hcroton@asu.edu or follow @thecrote on Twitter. 

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