LAS VEGAS — In a game that extended long past midnight for those at home in Arizona, ASU men's basketball took down No. 11 seed Oregon State 63-57 Wednesday to advance to the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals, where the Sun Devils will play the No. 3 seed USC Trojans.
With the win at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, ASU avoided what would have been a devastating loss to an OSU team that entered round one of the Pac-12 tournament, having lost eight of its last 12 games.
Senior center Warren Washington led ASU in points with 15 and in rebounds with nine. Guards, junior DJ Horne and fifth-year Desmond Cambridge Jr., each added 13 points.
ASU and OSU opened the game boasting solid defense; however, ASU gained the upper hand thanks to Horne's aggressiveness, who quickly scored seven points, helping the Sun Devils take the early lead.
Aggression was a theme for ASU Wednesday night as head coach Bobby Hurley implemented a full-court press when his second unit entered the game. That decision was critical, and kept ASU's head above water as the Sun Devils endured a two-minute scoring drought after taking the lead.
That's when Cambridge Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer to give ASU the 16-10 edge over the Beavers.
Cambridge Jr., who entered T-Mobile Arena in a walking boot, ended an ASU scoring drought and gave ASU its first basket in its last six attempts. The Devils finished the first half shooting 36.7% from the field, while the Beavers shot 39.1%.
Additionally, ASU had to find ways to gain production from its bench without freshman guard Austin Nunez, who missed his fourth-straight game due to concussion protocol after a head injury against Utah on Feb. 18.
At the media timeout, ASU held a 24-16 lead over the Beavers but was amid another two-minute scoring drought when the Beavers implemented a full-court press of their own and closed in on ASU's advantage. OSU freshman guard Jordan Pope hit a 3-pointer to gain the 26-24 advantage with just under two minutes remaining in the first half.
After Cambridge Jr. responded with a put-back layup to tie the game at 26, he followed it up with a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining to give ASU the 29-26 lead going into the half.
OSU's freshman forward Tyler Bilodeau opened the second half with a three-point play that again gave OSU the lead. Then sophomore guard Frankie Collins got on board with a step-back to score his first points of the day.
OSU started the half 4-5 from the field, then went ice cold, not scoring a field goal for eight minutes. ASU took advantage, extending its lead to 12 with under eight minutes remaining.
With 45 seconds remaining, Collins went to the line with a chance to give ASU a six-point lead but came up short, missing both free throws. Sophomore forward Jamiya Neal then iced the game with 11 seconds remaining with two free throws.
After the game, coach Hurley said Neal had earned an "expanded" role on the team.
"It was no pressure for me," Neal said. "That's just my job. Be there for my teammates wherever I can, and in this instance, the team needed me to step up and make some free throws, so that's what I did."
ASU moves to 21-11 on the year. The Sun Devils will play USC Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MST for a chance at the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. ASU has lost in both of its matchups this season against USC.
READ MORE: 'It's not over yet': ASU men's basketball on the outside looking in at Pac-12 win
Washington said the team's entire season has been leading up to this tournament, and they're ready for another challenge against USC.
"We worked all year for this month," he said. "So I feel like it's all coming together, and I'm excited. I know the guys are excited."
USC sits at 48 in the NCAA Tournament's NET rankings, and an ASU win would significantly boost ASU's NCAA Tournament chances as it sits at 65. Hurley said he was excited about the rematch.
"If it's anything like our last game last Saturday with USC, it's going to be a war," he said.
Edited by Walker Smith and Piper Hansen.
Reach the reporters at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and follow @AlfredS_III and @_alexwakefield on Twitter.
Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.