Jahii Carson and Carrick Felix have been Arizona State's two best players all season. Their tenacity and leadership has taken the Sun Devils from a 10-win season to a very respectable 20-win regular season campaign in just one year's time. Today, the Devils defeated the Cardinal 89-88 in overtime, fighting off a furious Stanford attack in the final minutes to salvage the season and live to play another day.
In the first game of the 2013 Pac-12 Tournament against Stanford, Carson and Felix brought the pressure one more time, putting forth the ultimate effort against a taller Cardinal team. Carson scored 34 points while Felix added 19, and Felix scooped up 12 rebounds despite having the task of guarding Dwight Powell in the paint for most of the game.
Arizona State seemingly had the game in hand with 1:10 left in the second half, controlling an eight point lead. From that point, the Cardinal exploded, making three shots from beyond the arc and managing to force the game into the extra frame.
From the opening tip, it felt like a title bout, as both teams exchanged blows mercilessly throughout the game. The pace was high octane throughout, and the Sun Devils opted to go with a four guard lineup, forcing Jordan Bachynski to the bench for most of the game.
Aaron Bright had a huge game for the Cardinal, scoring 27 points and making several key shots down the stretch in the second half, including an unlikely four-point play with just 35 seconds left in the game to tie the score at 79. Dwight Powell had an efficient game, scoring 23 points while grabbing 9 rebounds against the smaller ASU lineup.
Despite the height difference, the Sun Devils were all over the boards, getting 32 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end of the court. Felix and Colvin combined for 7 offensive rebounds, creating several second-chance opportunities for the Devils.
ASU shot 50% from beyond the arc, making 11 of their 22 attempts on the afternoon. Stanford was similarly competent, making 15 of 32 attempts.
Arizona State's normal Achilles' heel, the free throw, did not turn out to be a problem against Stanford, as Evan Gordon made nine of 11 free throws to ice away the victory despite a feverish offensive onslaught from the Cardinal.
ASU advances to the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament where they will face the #1-seeded UCLA Bruins. The game will tip off at 12:06 PM Thursday afternoon on the Pac-12 Networks.