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#SunDevilMoments Series Seed No. 15: ASU basketball beats Connecticut in NIT

After barely getting an invitation to the NIT, Arizona State surprised the defending national champions on the road in the opening round.

Shaquille McKissic's Clutch Play Down The Stretch Led Arizona State To An NIT Victory
Shaquille McKissic's Clutch Play Down The Stretch Led Arizona State To An NIT Victory
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Next week House of Sparky will begin our "#SunDevilMoments" tournament, with the 16 best moments from the athletic season. This week we will randomly introduce all 16 moments, then reveal our seedings and match-ups next week, where you, the reader, will vote on what was the ASU athletics Moment of the Year.

After an upset loss against USC to open the Pac-12 Tournament, Arizona State's basketball team had a long wait until Selection Sunday to find out if it would get an invitation to the NIT. The committee was able to overlook the rough loss against the Trojans and put the Sun Devils in the field, slotting them as a five-seed and giving them a tough opener at Connecticut.

Despite the long road trip, the draw ended up being a favorable one for the maroon and gold. The Huskies, who had dreams of making the big dance, ended up falling one win short of the NCAA's because of a home loss just three days earlier. They were also without star player Ryan Boatright, who had injured his shoulder in that AAC title game defeat against SMU.

The visitors took advantage of the lucky circumstances and raced out to a 37-24 halftime advantage, stunning a Connecticut team that did not look like it wanted to be there.

The Huskies would eventually wake up, and they were able to pull within one late in the second half thanks to an 11-2 run. But just when it looked like Arizona State was going to give up its second huge lead in as many games, something clicked.

Shaquille McKissic buried a huge three just as the shot clock was set to expire. Then he made a layup on the next trip down the court. The home team was unable to answer on their end, and the Sun Devils made their crucial free throws down the stretch to clinch a 68-61 win.

All of the sudden, thoughts of another heartbreaking loss had been erased. The maroon and gold had marched into a hostile environment and came out victorious, advancing to a second round matchup with top-seeded Richmond.

We saw the upset as the 15th best moment from the ASU athletic season, however it will be up the readers to see how far this moment goes in our #SunDevilMoments bracket.