Y'all, this was fun. An energetic Reed Arena crowd fueled a huge Aggie comeback in the biggest home test of the young season.
Let's run it back.
Well, the first half was not good. Billy Kennedy squads have built an identity on stingy defense... and the Sun Devils absolutely tore us apart. We were repeatedly burned on high screens, and the ASU bigs were finishing very well around the basket. On top of that, the spot-up shooters were absolutely on fire early.
get it because sun devil joke about fire jokesjokesjokes
When you add that to Alex Caruso's early foul trouble (which forced him to sit for long stretches), it's really kind of a miracle that we were only down 11 at the break.
Halftime Score: Arizona St. 45, Texas A&M 34
Key Halftime Statistics
- Arizona St. shooting: 3PT (54% - 7/13); FG (64% - 16/25); FT (86% - 6/7)
- Texas A&M shooting: 3PT (20% - 2/10); FG (48% - 14/29); FT (50% - 4/8)
- Jordan Green (8 points); Jalen Jones (8 points); Alex Caruso (10 points)
I figured the law of averages would kick in and we'd see a colder ASU squad after the break. I was wrong. The Sun Devils
still on fire at this point har har har were 3-4 from downtown in the first five minutes of the half, and had it not been for Jordan Green and deep shooting from House and Allen, they could have run away with this thing before the first media timeout.
After that, both squads settled down for a bit. Arizona St. maintained their double digit advantage, but their outside shooting numbers came back down to earth. Our offense sputtered through the second portion of the half as well, and ASU found themselves with a ten point lead with eleven minutes remaining.
And then it was Alex Caruso time.
Caruso used pretty much his entire swiss-army-knife skillset (three-pointers; steals; dunks; assists) to spearhead a 13-2 Aggie run punctuated by an Alex Robinson three that ignited the Reed Arena crowd and gave the Aggies a 63-62 lead with six minutes to play. And guys, our defense during this stretch was outstanding. At one point, on four consecutive possessions, the Sun Devils were forced into last second bombs after extended possessions that never really penetrated the three-point-arc.
The crowd was into it, the players were into it, and ASU was clearly flustered.
The Sun Devils eventually settled down, but an Alex Caruso absolutely filthy step-back three put the good guys up two heading into the final media time out.
The Stretch (A&M up 68-66; 3:05 remaining)
- ASU hits another three (of course), and House hits 1/2 FT on the other end. Tie ballgame.
- Both squads have an ugly offensive possession that amounts to nothing. Caruso then jumps a passing lane and misses a wide open dunk.
- Alex immediately gets another steal, and this time finishes with a prudent layup. ASU hits two free throws on their possession, tying the game with 0:34 remaining. The shot clock is turned off.
- Caruso bleeds the clock down to ten seconds and runs a high pick-and-roll with Roberson, who is fouled. Roberson hits one of two. Five seconds remaining.
- Note: At this point we had two fouls to give. The ASU inbounds pass should have been followed by an IMMEDIATE foul. Twice. To anyone at the game startled by my repeated screams of FOUL FOUL FOUL FOUL: I apologize
- ASU guard Tra Holder (who had a nice game) is allowed to drive the length of the floor in five seconds and gets a decent look from around 25-27 feet. He misses. I could not have been held responsible for my actions had this gone down.
- Final Score: Texas A&M 73; Arizona St 72
- Game MVP: Alex Caruso - 23 points (9/11 shooting); 6 rebounds; 6 assists; 6 steals. He was immense.