The Arizona State Sun Devils hosted the Colorado Buffaloes for their Pac-12 home opener in early January, and although both teams had pretty similar characteristics, no one could have predicted just how close the game would end up being.
Setting the scene
The first thirty minutes saw both teams going on runs to build big leads and then subsequently squander them, but it was the final 11 minutes that ultimately descended into chaos.
The lead changed 14 times in just 11 minutes to close out the game, and in the end Arizona State needed a hero to emerge and cement their lead for good.
With 6.2 seconds on the clock and Colorado leading 77-76, former ASU guard and current member of the Dallas Mavericks summer league team Torian Graham held the ball a few feet from the three-point line, waiting for the green light.
He stepped right, crossed back to his left hand and elevated over his defender to release his shot, one that he hoped would fall and guide ASU to victory.
Except, it didn’t. It rolled off the front the rim. Luckily for Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils, however, they had found their hero. With just 1.6 seconds on the clock, junior guard Tra Holder leapt toward the rim, grabbed the rebound, and immediately tossed a shot up at the backboard and drew the foul.
Holder made both free throws to give ASU a 78-77 lead and played terrific defense on the ensuing Buffaloes possession, ensuring a Sun Devil victory and celebration at mid-court following the final buzzer.
The 2016-17 ASU basketball team was loaded with veteran talent, but most games it was Holder who seemed to take the most responsibility for the team’s performance. He brought the ball up the floor, distributed it to his playmakers early and often, and had a knack for the clutch.
This was hardly the first time we’ve seen Holder come through in key situations with the game on the line, and with one more season in Tempe, it likely won’t be the last.