TEMPE, Ariz. — No Josh Christopher? No problem.
The Arizona State Sun Devils never trailed in Sunday’s 75-73 win over the Oregon State Beavers at Desert Financial Arena.
ASU was once again not at full strength, as freshman Christopher was out due to a back injury he sustained in Thursday’s game against the Oregon Ducks. The Sun Devils were also without freshman forward Marcus Bagley due to an ankle injury.
But it didn’t matter, as Remy Martin and Co. were able to swarm the Beavers on the defensive end of the court, which then turned into easy transition buckets on the offensive end.
The Sun Devils skunked the Beavers 18-0 on fast-break points and were able to win the turnover battle 15-8, nine of which came via steals. The 15 turnovers resulted in 26 points for ASU. Compare that to the two points off eight turnovers for Oregon State.
Arizona State also bested OSU in points in the paint 34-28, 24 of which came in the first half. That was largely part to Oregon State’s 11 first half turnovers that led to ASU’s 15 first half fast-break points.
But the Sun Devils would go through multiple cold streaks from the floor over the course of the game.
The first was midway through the first half, which opened the door for the Beavers to cut into Arizona State’s lead that at one point was as high as 15.
ASU managed to go seven minutes without scoring a bucket from the floor before a fast-break slam from Martin ended that streak. However, the Sun Devils were still able to maintain their lead by getting 7 points from the charity stripe over that span thanks to 15 first half fouls from the Beavers.
And with Oregon State cutting the deficit to just four points with 2:26 to go in the half, Arizona State buckled down and closed out the opening frame on a 9-3 run to restore ASU’s lead to 41-31 at halftime.
“I thought our pressure affected them. We were able to get a couple steals… and they were turned into layups,” head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame. “So any time you get those types of high-percentage opportunities, it really fueled what we did in the first half.
“That was definitely a big part of our success and putting 41 points on the board and having a double-figure lead going into the half.”
The second cold stretch was a four-minute scoreless streak that turned into a six-minute lapse from the floor that started with around 10:30 remaining the contest. But once again, ASU’s ability to get to the charity stripe and convert on 25-of-34 (74%) proved enough to hold on to the lead.
“I think the guards did a good job of getting downhill and getting to the basket,” Hurley said. “Remy got fouled on a three, he was getting to the basket — Verge same. Those guys did a nice job of attacking the paint and putting pressure on their defense.”
Oregon State did manage to tie the game with under two minutes to go, but a Martin 3-pointer and some more clutch free throws were enough to secure the victory.
The win also marks No. 100 for Hurley as head coach of Arizona State.
“It’s crazy, it’s amazing that I’ve won that many. I didn’t even realize that coming into this game,” Hurley said. “I remember getting my 100th win [against] Georgia as a head coach a few years ago and that was a fun thing to get that milestone.
“It means a lot. This place has provided so many great memories for me over the last couple of years especially. Some of the wins we’ve had and seasons we’ve had and the guys that I’ve been able to coach — I’ll go home and think about tonight: all the players that I’ve been blessed to have here over my six years.”
The Sun Devils now find themselves with a 7-9 record (4-6 Pac-12) as the team heads into its final four scheduled games of the season. ASU will head to California to take on both Los Angeles schools this week before returning home to host both of the Washington schools the following week.
Arizona State’s next contest is at the USC Trojans on Wednesday, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m. Arizona time.
Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.