The Sun Devils went to Colorado with a two game losing streak, and their NCAA Tournament hopes were quickly slipping away. Coach Herb Sendek decided to make a change to his starting lineup for the first time this season, inserting Chris Colvin as the shooting guard. Evan Gordon started the game on the bench, but ended the game as the hero, making a buzzer-beating layup to give ASU a signature road win. Arizona State defeated Colorado, 63-62 in overtime.
Colorado had just come off a huge win over Arizona on Thursday night, while the Sun Devils were reeling after a loss to Utah in Salt Lake City. Both teams were 7-5 in conference play, and the victor of this game would take the driver's seat for the coveted fourth overall seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. That, and the Buffaloes wanted to avenge their loss to ASU in Tempe. A lot of pride was on the line, and it showed.
The game was physical from the outset, and both teams exerted themselves throughout the contest. The officiating was uneven, but in the end the game came down to multiple factors: free throw shooting, coaching strategies, and sheer will to win.
Arizona State made 10 of 17 free throws and only 29% of their three pointers. Colorado, on the other hand, shot only 35% from the field for the entire game, but knocked down 16 of 18 from the charity stripe. Spencer Dinwiddie was unstoppable once again from the line, making 14 of 14.
ASU found themselves up 54-48 with 1:16 left in the second half, but were unable to close out the victory. A pair of Dinwiddie free throws, an Askia Booker jumper and a wide open Xavier Johnson dunk with two seconds to go pushed the game into overtime.
The tense atmosphere continued into the extra frame, as the Sun Devils and Buffaloes took turns leading the game right down to the final buzzer. ASU made 2 of 6 free throws in overtime, the most crucial of which came when Carrick Felix missed both his free throws with 24 seconds to go and a 61-60 ASU lead.
Colorado answered the bell, as Dinwiddie drove the lane and converted a layup to take a 62-61 lead with just seven seconds to play. The game came right down to the end, as Jahii Carson passed off the ball to Evan Gordon with just 3 seconds left at the three point line.
With great awareness of the clock, Gordon blew past Colorado guard Sabatino Chen, pushing a layup to the backboard before time expired. The ball circled the cylinder, touching every bit of metal it could find before entering the hoop and giving the Sun Devils a 63-62 overtime win.
With the win, ASU moves to 8-5 in conference play and 19-7 on the season. According to bracketology expert Joe Lunardi, they are now back in the NCAA Tournament bracket.
Arizona State heads back to Tempe for a Wednesday tilt against Washington State and a Saturday battle against Washington. Two wins will be needed for the Sun Devils to keep pace in a very tough Pac-12 conference.