LAWRENCE, Kansas — The No. 16 Arizona State Sun Devils (9-0) rode an incredible performance from senior guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II to defeat the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (8-2), 95-85, on Sunday afternoon at the Allen Fieldhouse
KU’s guards flew all over court, driving to the hoop, throwing alley oops, hitting threes and bringing Allen Fieldhouse to its feet en route to opening an early 15-2 lead.
The Sun Devils then managed a run of their own. Freshman forward Vitaliy Shibel hit a corner three and senior guard Tra Holder added to the 8-0 counter with one of his own. Senior guard Shannon Evans II would continue ASU’s success from beyond the ark a few possessions later to bring the Sun Devils within three at 23-20.
While Arizona State relied on its long range game, the Jayhawks maintained a versatile attack during the first half.
KU scored 18 points in the paint and managed seven wide-open dunks. The Jayhawks’s speed around the perimeter opened countless easy looks and KU capitalized, shooting just shy of 50 percent from the field.
ASU’s deficit creeped back up to eight before the Devils got right back in the game with a few terrific offensive possessions. Evans, Holder and freshman Remy Martin effectively spread the floor to force the Jayhawks into respecting the perimeter game and fed freshman Romello White down low.
The Devils closed the half on an 8-3 run to bring the score to 40-37.
It took Arizona State just under five minutes to tie the game at 52-52 after the break. Senior guard Kodi Justice scored his first points of the game to end a 0-for-6 drought, White established a presence down low and Martin connected on a three of his own to silence Allen Fieldhouse.
ASU then took control, putting together a stunning 15-point run to open up a 65-52 lead. The run was aided a bit by a few missed Jayhawk opportunities and Holder’s ability to find space and finish underneath.
Kansas didn’t stay cold for long, the Jayhawks’ guards countered with tremendous defensive possessions to fight their way back into a six point deficit. KU’s energy on the other side of the ball forced ASU into a situation it hadn’t seen in a long time.
The Sun Devils were in the national spotlight, holding a lead on the No. 2 team in the country with 16,000 screaming fans and eight of the most talented players in the nation stacked against them.
ASU’s undefeated record and a chance to hand KU coach Bill Self just his 11th loss in 15 years in Lawrence hung in the balance.
Arizona State would hang on for a 95-85 victory.
Holder and Evans’s composure and accuracy down the stretch would be the final blow to the Jayhawks.
Martin, Evans and Holder all scored 20-plus points and converted on key free throws down the stretch to tally arguably the most remarkable victory across any sport for ASU in the last decade.
The Sun Devils return home next Sunday to face Vanderbilt in Tempe, with a chance to go undefeated in non-conference play on the line.