When Bobby Hurley took over for Herb Sendek, most fans did not expect much out of this season. Those thoughts were reinforced when the Sun Devils dropped their season-opener to Sacramento State.
However, since that loss, the Sun Devils have been steadily improving as they boasted victories over tournament regular Belmont and ACC contender NC State to close out November. ASU took another step forward in Hurley's first season Wednesday night as they topped the Creighton Bluejays 79-77 in their first true road contest of the 2015-2016 season.
Arizona State shot 64 percent from the field in the second half and tallied 21 assists on 31 made baskets in the victory. This was the first game Creighton has lost at the CenturyLink Center in which they scored at least 75 points.
The play of the game came late in the second half with Savon Goodman at the free throw line with 18 seconds left and the Sun Devils down by one. Goodman missed the game tying free throw and the ball was rebounded by Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden.
As Zierden controlled the ball, Tra Holder came from behind, stole the ball and scored a layup to give ASU a 78-77 lead that they would not relinquish. Holder scored eight points and dished out eight assists for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State was led by the play of Savon Goodman. The redshirt junior racked up 23 points (one away from tying a career high) on an efficient 10-13 from the field with seven rebounds. Willie Atwood tied a career high with 14 points and also added eight rebounds.
Creighton took a 41-33 lead into halftime and ASU began the second half on a 12-4 run to tie the game at 45 with just over 17 minutes left to play.
The Sun Devils and Bluejays traded baskets most of the second half, with each team shooting over 50 percent from the field and each squad tallying 22 points from their respective benches.
It was truly a fun, fast-paced game that was enjoyable to watch, particularly in the second half. Five Bluejays finished the game in double figures and forward Cole Huff missed an open three as time expired to seal the Sun Devil victory.
Up next for Arizona State (5-2), is a meeting with No. 18 Texas A&M on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.