After Arizona State’s (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) 78-64 win over the Oregon Ducks (11-7, 2-3), freshman forward Taeshon Cherry run through the halls of Wells Fargo Arena shooting, “I’m back.”
It had been over a month since Cherry had scored in double figures before ASU’s win against Oregon State on Thursday. He dropped 12 points on the Beavers before following it up with 15 points on Saturday. All of Cherry’s 15 points against the Ducks came from three-point territory, he set a career-high with five three pointers made.
“Once we got into Pac-12 play, I wasn’t really doing as well. I think Colorado I was doing okay, then over at the Bay (Area) I didn’t really do as well. But these two games I just feel like I’m back now. I got my swagger back,” explained Cherry about what he meant as he shouted in the halls of his home court.
Cherry also points to this being a possible turning point for himself this season after early season frustration:
“Our first thing after we lost to Stanford was ‘(it’s a) new season,’ and we’re 2-0 in the new season right now,” he said. “We got to go on the road next week and do the same thing with a chip on our shoulder. These two games were big for me and I’m going to go to LA with a lot of confidence.”
His coaches feel the same way.
“I’m sure it was,” assistant coach Anthony Coleman on if it was frustrating for Cherry early in the season. “If that was anybody it’d frustrate them. He’s a very talented guy, they know what they can actually do. They know they can produce and contribute for this team. Him knowing and having all the hype coming in, I think he was just pressing a little bit. Just letting the game come to him, now he’s starting to do better.”
The Sun Devils went on a 22-2 run midway through the second half lifted ASU to their first sweep in a conference week since last February against the Los Angeles schools. The run of course started with a three-point shot from Cherry that pulled ASU within one before sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence followed with a three of his own the next possession to give ASU the lead for good.
“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.”
With the hot hand from Cherry, ASU has shot 39% and 40% from three in their wins over Oregon and Oregon State. Cherry’s ability to shoot will continue to be important, the Sun Devils have been looking another consistent shooter outside of redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards.
It’s also the factor that ASU is now 7-0 when Cherry hits two or more threes in a game. Of course the biggest factor with him is his confidence. The freshman truly feeds off of crowd energy and the hype from his teammates. In each of the wins over the Oregon schools, Cherry made two deep balls within the first four minutes of him checking into the game.
“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.”
The question now is how big can Cherry be for Arizona State going forward?
In Coleman’s opinion, “huge.”