It was 54-50 near the eight-minute mark of the second half. Both teams hadn’t gave an inch in a back-and-forth affair.
Then freshman forward Taeshon Cherry hit a three. The crowd of 12,751 at Wells Fargo Arena began to rise. Another stop led to transition offense. Running the floor, sophomore guard Remy Martin dropped back a transition three to sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence.
The three dropped, and things exploded from there. It turned into a 22-2 run over a span of nearly five minutes. It put a cap on a two-game home sweep of the Oregon schools, as ASU (13-5, 4-2) sped away from Oregon (11-7, 2-3) on Saturday night.
“I think at 54-50, we needed to play well, and we needed to step up,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “Taeshon stepped up and hit a big three. We got a stop, and then Kimani followed that up. It was great to see those guys do that.”
Dunks and three’s were a part of the mammoth run down the stretch, but the real underlying aspect of the offense was the team’s effort on the other end of the floor. ASU held the Ducks to 25 percent shooting after they shot above 40 percent in the first 20 minutes.
“We really hounded them and made things pretty difficult,” Hurley said. “It starts with Lu (Dort) and Remy (Martin). They did some nice things...It was a combination of getting deflections and getting some steals, guarding them well, and getting the rebounds.”
Early on, both teams shot the ball well. ASU shot at a clip of 56 percent, while Oregon continued to answer back by shooting at a mark of 42 percent. Additionally, the Ducks took advantage of ASU turnovers by cashing in 16 points off nine Sun Devil hiccups.
Both teams traded punches and at the half, Oregon was tied with the Devils thanks to a deep three from Ducks junior guard Payton Pritchard at the buzzer.
Oregon came out of the locker room with an early lead, but the huge run from ASU led to the Ducks unraveling.
As for the players leading the play, Saturday’s win was a complete team effort, but there were some players who particularly impressed out on the floor.
Lawrence had 10 points, and Cherry followed up a 12-point effort on Thursday with 15 points on 5-10 shooting from three-point land on Saturday.
“When I hit that first three, and everyone starts yelling, it’s just like, ‘Man, I am in it now,’” said Cherry of his three-point stroke. “If I have daylight, I am going to let it fly every time.”
Cherry and Lawrence had their solid moments, but the most electric play of the game had to be bestowed to redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham. Along with a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds, Cheatham threw down a vicious right-handed spike over Oregon sophomore forward Kenny Wooten.
Posted up near the baseline, Cheatham’s defender overplayed a pass down low to him, leaving a one-on-one meeting at the rim with Wooten, who was under the bucket. Cheatham proceeded to throw down the emphatic slam and bring the house down.
“Once I spun baseline, I saw daylight, and me and Kenny, it was either go through his chest or go over him,” Cheatham said. “I feel like I made the right decision...I wasn’t trying to be on the other side of Sportscenter. It was just me and him once we got in the air, and I won this battle.”
Put together, it was all thrown into the 14-point victory for ASU. What looked like a close game throughout turned into a Sun Devil sprint to the finish line. The win sealed a Pac-12 series sweep - The first for ASU since last February against the LA schools.
The weekend sweep was pivotal in regards to conference rankings and further postseason aspirations. Now it’s on to the next task: Trying to sweep a conference road series - Something that hasn’t been done in the Bobby Hurley era.
Will it happen next weekend against UCLA and USC? We’ll just have to find out.
“Oregon State came in here 3-0 in the Pac, and they were playing very well. No one beat them,” Hurley said. “Oregon was on a roll as well, beating USC handily and then winning at Arizona. To know you’re playing a team that is playing pretty well, and to do what we were able to do in the second half shows where we can take it if we focus on the right things.”