No. 18 ASU shows resiliency, rides wild atmosphere to upset No. 1 Kansas
Dec 22, 2018, 10:45 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2018, 10:24 am
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
TEMPE, Ariz. — No. 18 Arizona State could not execute at home against No. 1 Kansas.
The Sun Devils missed a ton of free throws and easy shots. They made bad decisions. They fell asleep off the ball defensively. They weren’t ahead for the first 37-plus minutes of the game.
But as is the case with every Bobby Hurley squad, the Sun Devils play with such an overwhelming amount of energy that sometimes it’s enough to overcome deficiencies, and that was the case Saturday to pull off the 80-76 upset over the Jayhawks.
ASU converted 29 percent of its shots in the first half, hit only 20 of 32 free throw attempts and the team’s best player freshman Luguentz Dort shot 3-of-14. On the other side, Kansas big Dedric Lawson was sensational, dropping 30 points and 14 rebounds.
The Sun Devils did not lead until junior transfer Rob Edwards’ ginormous three-pointer with 2:23 left put the Sun Devils up 76-74.
Kansas executed better, but because of how hard the Sun Devils fought, a few big plays by Edwards and sophomore Remy Martin were enough to swing the game.
As Hurley noted after the game, ASU has those big-time players that remain unfazed.
“They just kept staying in it and staying in it and then we got our stops and Rob Edwards and Remy were huge with the shot-making late in the game and that was it,” he said.
Every time the Sun Devils needed a response they provided one. While it wasn’t strong enough to be in control until the very end of the game, it was always there.
That comes from the foundation Hurley has built through his short time in Tempe and the types of players he has been bringing in and grooming.
“We have tough kids that [have] big-time grit and heart and believe in themselves. Really confident kids,” he said. “There as hard of a working group I’ve had. If they didn’t work that hard they wouldn’t have the confidence to go out and do what they did tonight.”
Hurley’s teams are made to win ugly if they have to like they did on Saturday night.
“There was a lot of adversity in this game and we’ve got a lot of winners in the locker room,” Hurley said. “Even the freshmen really aren’t scared of the moment or intimidated by the moment.”
They thrived in the crazy atmosphere of Wells Fargo Arena that was made even better by the well-traveled Jayhawk supporters who were loud throughout.
“The crowd was dynamic,” Hurley said. “It was off the charts in terms of the electricity in the building.”
The student section stormed the court when the final buzzer sounded that sealed one the signature wins in the program’s history and its first upset of No. 1 since 1981.
For how long Hurley has been around and the levels he reached playing for Duke, the coach calling the victory “one of the great sports moments” of his life speaks to its magnitude.
To win in the relentless fashion Hurley wants his teams to be known for means even more.
“I think we battled as hard as we could every possession,” Hurley said. “They went all in and they gave everything they had tonight.”