Arizona State (15-3, 6-1 Pac-12) men’s basketball capped-off a Northwest road trip with a 74-69 win over Oregon State (7-11, 1-6) Saturday afternoon in Corvallis.
Make it four in a row for ASU, who is off to its best conference start in decades.
After a shaky first half, which at one point saw the Sun Devils down 16 to the Beavers, ASU eventually overcame the early deficit for a crucial victory, and a clean sweep of the Oregon Pac-12 schools.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. (21 points) continues to make a massive impact on these must-have games, shooting 57% from three point range and knocking down tough buckets inside, as well.
Frankie Collins (12), Devan Cambridge (13) and DJ Horne (9) all gave solid efforts in the comeback, but the lineup as a whole left quite a bit of points out there as the Sun Devils shot 67% from the free throw line – and it almost came back to bite them in the end.
ASU had swung the pendulum its way, going up 10 points with just under four minutes to play, but Oregon State went on an 11-3 run to bring the game to within one point thanks to untimely free throw misses, turnovers and some unlucky bounces.
The Sun Devils shot 44% (8-18) from behind the arc, but Oregon State actually out-stroked ASU in this category making 10 threes in this one. Arizona State is usually a team that has to out-shoot its opponent from deep, so winning when they don’t come easy is an equally important notch-in-the-belt.
The defense from Bobby Hurley’s relentless group saved the day in the middle-third of the game. When it was all said and done ASU finished with 9 blocks and 9 steals, including 3 blocks from Duke Brennan and a big steal by Frankie Collins to seal the game for the Sun Devils.
In the last four games, the Sun Devils have averaged 7 steals and 5.5 blocks on the defensive end, forcing 16 turnovers on Saturday against the Beavers.
The real difference in this one was the free-throw margin. ASU attempted 13 more shots from the line than its opposition, which was the cherry-on-top of a wonderful end of the week for this Sun Devil crew. The team as a whole did miss nine from the stripe, which is something to keep in mind heading into next week’s home-stand against No. 7 UCLA and USC.
Cambridge Jr. has had back-to-back outings of 20 points or higher after Saturday, and the team is shooting 48% from the field during this four-game win streak. It would be nice to see the starting lineup get out in front early, letting the defense control the game.
It was an all-around solid road win for a Sun Devil cohort that has aspirations of a conference title and making a run in March. Solidifying the little mistakes that can hurt in the last four minutes of a big game will go a long way against highly ranked opponents like UCLA, Utah and eventually Arizona again down the road.
Until then, the Sun Devils are in business after a Saturday afternoon victory, sitting comfortably at No. 2 in the Pac-12 heading into a marquee matchup with UCLA.