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Fork Report: McKissic, Arizona State hurdle Colorado Buffaloes

TEMPE, Ariz. — Shaquielle “Shaq-in-the-box” McKissic spring-loaded his Arizona State team over Colorado Saturday for the Sun Devils’ first conference win and first victory in four games.

McKissic poured in a team-high 16 points (with four highlight-reel dunks) and grabbed six boards in the 78-72 victory at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
Bo Barnes lent 13 of his own points and Gerry Blakes had 12 as the Sun Devils held off a final-minute Colorado rally.

Colorado’s Askia Booker, fresh off a 30-point game against Arizona, struck early and often against ASU defender Gerry Blakes. Booker was 6-of-9 from the field with 14 of the Buffaloes’ 28 first-half points to open. He finished with a game-high 21.

The Sun Devils trailed by four in the final minute of the half when McKissic stepped up with a 3-pointer to bring his team within one. He then had a fast-break dunk at the buzzer to give ASU a one-point lead at the half.

The teams traded leads nine times in the second half and Arizona State hit 7-of-9 from the field to build a 10-point lead, helped along by three 3-pointers from Barnes.

Booker then hit a deep three and Mesa’s Dobson High School product Jaron Hopkins hit another with 21.2 left in the game to help Colorado pull within three points, but the Sun Devils held on for their first Pac-12 victory and snapped their four-game skid.

The Good

— Shaq McKissic’s attack of the basket fueled ASU. He threw down four dunks, two tomahawks and two one-handers, one of which put Colorado’s Tory Miller on a poster. McKissic said that one was his favorite and he had “begged” Miller to come to ASU on a recruiting visit last year. Miller obviously chose otherwise.

“He said after the game ‘I’m going to hit you up later,'” laughed McKissic. Here’s what it looked like:

— Bo Barnes got hot in the final few minutes, hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to keep the Sun Devils’ lead out of reach. He finished 4-of-6 from behind the arc.

“They were huge,” said McKissic of his teammate’s ability to clutch up. “Me and him played the shooting game yesterday and he kind of dragged me up and down the court so I expected him to make all of them that he took. He shot them with great confidence.”

— Tra Holder, the shortest player on the team (who sees consistent minutes), led the Sun Devils in rebounds for much of the game. He finished second on the team with six rebounds to complement his 10 points and six assists.

— ASU held Booker to just seven second-half points.

The Bad

— This is the seventh consecutive game ASU has lost the turnover battle, with 14 to Colorado’s 13. They have had double-digit giveaways in all games but one this season (UNLV, nine).

— ASU managed to shoot just 67 percent from the free throw line.

Stat of the Game

Arizona State shot 71.4 percent from the field in the second half, a near-30 percent improvement from their first half performance. Their 49 second-half points is the second highest scoring performance in a second half this season, and third-best overall scoring performance in any half.

Quotes of the Game

“Yeah, I’ve been working with him on that extensively.” – Head coach Herb Sendek said of McKissic’s dunking.

“I mean, as far as right now (Shaquille O’Neal) is shooting free throws better than me. I’m going to try to tackle that,” – McKissic, on whether he’s the best dunking Shaq of all time.

Up Next

Arizona State (9-9, 1-4 Pac-12) will see Cal (11-7, 1-4 Pac-12) on the road on Jan. 22 at 9 p.m.