The consensus of fans at Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday came to see Pac-12 scoring leader Markelle Fultz.
He played, played well, and even had 28 points, but left the building missing one thing: a win.
And while Sun Devil fans witnessed a potential future NBA-star, they relished two NCAA stars of their own. Shannon Evans and Tra Holder stole the show from Fultz and took it by storm as Arizona State (10-11, 3-5) beat Washington (9-10, 2-6) in an 86-75 win.
“Tra Holder was terrific...he really took over the game,” said head coach Bobby Hurley. “Shannon, I thought was outstanding too throughout the game and he guarded fultz a lot. He expended a lot of energy guarding him and still played one of his better games offensively.”
Evans led the Sun Devils with 25 points and his backcourt sidekick Holder had 23.
But it was the defensive play from Hurley’s guards that clinched the win.
“We didn’t make shots, we were kind of stagnant with the zone. We just didn’t play the best that we’re capable of at that end, but because we guarded and got stops, we created some turnovers,” Hurley said.
The Sun Devils dominated the turnover margin, scoring 17 points off turnovers compared to the Huskies’ two.
Also, the Sun Devils held Fultz to just eight points in the first half. His twenty second half points didn’t put the Huskies on top, but still created trouble for Evans.
“It’s tough. He’s like 6-foot-5, athletic, he uses his teammates well, and he can score. He’s a great player. He’s young and he’s got a bright future ahead of him,” Evans said.
Not only did the freshman finish with 28 points, but he was an assist shy of a double-double (9) and collected eight rebounds.
“Shannon did an unbelievable job,” said Holder on Evans’ defense. “Just in case he made a mistake and got beat, I was there to help him, but he did an amazing job, and I’m sure Fultz thought the same thing.”
Aside from Fultz, Evans, and Holder, the Sun Devils’ big men Jethro Tshisumpa and Ramon Vila both had solid nights on the floor. The two each had a block and five points and most importantly kept out of foul trouble.
“Jethro and Ramon had underrated contributions,” Hurley said. “Those guys had good minutes rebounding, scoring and we were able to use our bench and get productivity from it.”
After coming up empty on a brutal road swing against two top-25 teams and a skilled USC, the Sun Devils needed this win to snap a four game losing streak.
“Just getting back here, having a few days to prepare for this. And knowing it was a crucial part of the season for both teams where we were in the standings, it was a great win,” Hurley said.
Arizona State has a chance to flip a four game skid into a possible two-game win streak this Sunday at 12 p.m. against Washington State (10-9, 3-4), who’s lost four of its last five.