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ASU basketball: No. 21 Sun Devils bounce back with 80-66 win over Colorado


NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

First pumping and throwing hands up for a crowd’s ovation, Shannon Evans and Tra Holder met at center court, shook hands after a timeout, then helped ASU close off the game on a 33-15 run in the final 10 minutes.

The Sun Devils had trailed by four with 10:52 to play, before Evans and Holder knocked down five three-pointers in six possessions, spurting out to a 10-point lead in just over three minutes.

“That felt amazing. That felt like non-conference,” Holder said. “Man, everyone was hitting shots.”

The resilient No. 21 Arizona State Sun Devils (16-5, 4-5 Pac-12) bounced back Saturday night, beating the Colorado Buffaloes (12-10, 4-6) by a score of 80-66 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Holder led ASU in points (22) rebounds (five) and assists (four), while Evans added 19. The two big men, De’Quon Lake and Romello White each had 10.

In five weeks of Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils have split all four series they’ve played, including two against the Rocky Mountain schools. Both losses came in overtime.

This win, though, was ASU’s most commanding in some time. Its 14-point margin was the Sun Devils’ largest in conference play since 2016.

“It felt like the summer time. It felt like we were in Barcelona. That’s how we were playing. Guys just kept making shots,” Evans said.

ASU and Colorado were tied at 32 at halftime where the Sun Devils started the game 0-for-11 from beyond the arc. They then flipped the switch. ASU made 10 of its last 21 three-pointers, shooting 50 percent overall in the second half.

“These players are too good for us to not be able to do that. You don’t do it for two months and then it just goes away. You see it again,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said.

In the second half, neither ASU or Colorado led by more than three points until Colorado’s D’Shawn Schwartz hit a pull up 3 with 10:52 to go.

The Sun Devils trailed 51-47, before Holder and Evans single-handedly outscored the Buffaloes 21-9 to make it a 68-60 game with 4:38 to play. From then on, Colorado would score just six more times.

The Sun Devils forced 17 turnovers, and kept Colorado to just 66 points. It’s the fewest points ASU allowed in conference game since playing at Washington State in the first year of the Hurley era.

“I loved our defensive effort for 40 minutes. That was probably our best all year,” Hurley said. “That’s kind of the activity we had shown through non-conference, then it carried over to getting us more open court and bought us some time to get our offense in gear.”

Mickey Mitchell, Remy Martin and Holder each had two steals, adding to ASU’s defensive effort that totaled 19 points off turnovers and 17 fast break points.

The win puts ASU back into the middle of the Pac, after falling to third-to-last following an 80-77 overtime loss to Utah.

Arizona State returns to the court on Thursday, Feb. 1 against Washington at 9 p.m. MST in the first game of a conference series in the Evergreen State.