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ASU battles back in second half to defeat Oregon State

Arizona State guard Kodi Justice (44) in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon State, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. — After taking their last loss to Oregon on the chin, the No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils got a much-needed 77-75 victory over the visiting Oregon State Beavers Saturday.

“Just a really, really courageous performance by our team and it just shows again the resiliency and determination to win,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. “Got a lot of winners in the locker room and it was a fun team to go to battle with.”

And what a battle it was for the Sun Devils, as it took them well into the second half to pull away.

In the first half, ASU could not get into a consistent rhythm. With 13:50 still to play in the half, ASU found itself on a three-minute scoring drought while OSU put together a 6-0 run to take an early lead.

ASU guard Tra Holder had a rough first half, shooting 1-of-8 in 17 minutes.

“I thought he had some decent looks in the first half and wasn’t able to connect,” Hurley said. “He had a few things go against in terms of contact and losing the ball and not getting a whistle.”

Not all was bad in the first half as ASU guard Kodi Justice was electric from long range, connecting on 3-of-4 shooting, including back-to-back three-pointers with 3:30 left in the half. Overall, he had 14 points along with three assists and three steals.

Heading into the locker room, ASU trailed 34-33.

While Holder never found his groove, shooting 1-0f-9 for the night, Shannon Evans II provided an added boost for the Sun Devils in the second half.

“I felt like none of us wanted to lose,” Evans said. “Trying to get on a winning streak, trying to get back on track, things like so I just tried to come up with big plays.”

After being held scoreless in the first — Evans said Hurley didn’t give him the ball — and watching OSU open up the second half on a 15-3 run, he erupted. Evans put up a team-leading 22 points and what would turn out to be a dagger for OSU.

“With Shannon, we just have to get it out of our minds that a particular type of defense is going to bother us,” Hurley said. “Shannon was in attack mode, he wasn’t going to let us lose.”

It wasn’t just his scoring, he also added seven assists along with his 22 points.

“We all can create a shot for ourselves, but we get higher percentage shots when we drive and kick it,” Evans said. “We just try to use each other and feed off each other and I feel like that’s what we did.”

He wasn’t the only bright spot for ASU.

ASU big man De’Quon Lake had a stellar game off the bench, putting up 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks — two of which were part of a back-to-back — in 25 minutes.

“I couldn’t take him out of the game because he was so athletic around the basket and did so many things to impact the game for us.”

As a team, ASU had a 34-32 advantage in the paint while the bench outscored OSU’s 27-7.

“We have to have guys stepping up,” Hurley said. “We’ve got to get production and we talked about not getting great production versus Oregon in our bench and tonight the bench responded.”

Remy Martin added his usual spark as well, dropping 12 points and adding three assists.

And while the level of play intensified on the court, the added boost from the crowd was felt throughout the team.

“We fed off that tonight,” Justice said of the Wells Fargo Arena crowd. “It was big plays and a three-pointer felt like six points literally because the crowd was so big.

“(OSU) got a little rattled because the crowd was so loud and it was great to see.”

Hurley echoed those comments saying it was “such a great feeling seeing the building like that and to see those guys push us past the finish line.”

The Sun Devils will be back in action on Wednesday, Jan. 17 as they travel to take on Stanford.


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