ASU Holds on Late, Edges Marquette

Jordan Backynski's block which sealed the win

On a night when Jordan Bachynski recorded a season-high seven blocked shots and moved up to fourth all-time on the Pac-12's career blocks list, he managed to save his best for last helping ASU earn a dramatic 79-77 home win over no. 25 Marquette

Clinging to a two point lead with seven seconds remaining, senior Jermaine Marshall stepped to the free throw line for the second of his two attempts looking to provide the Sun Devils with a little breathing room before the final possession of the game. But his shot rimmed out, giving the Golden Eagles one last opportunity to steal victory away.

Junior Derrick Wilson raced down the far sideline, evading the Sun Devil defense as he positioned himself for a leaning teardrop as time was set to expire. But just as he had all night, Bachynski stood prepared to defend the rim, erasing Wilson's attempt as the horn sounded, sending Arizona State to its first 6-0 start since 1980-81.

"We knew that we had to play heads-up basketball and play smart," said Bachynski afterwards. "We were going to key on their shooters because we knew they needed two to tie and a three to win. I knew that as he was coming around the corner that he was going to take it so I just leaked over and jumped and prayed and blocked the shot."

Bachynski led the way from start to finish, pacing the Sun Devils on both ends of the floor with 14 points on 6-8 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots in 39 minutes of action. It marked the sixth double-double of the season already for Bachynski, who entered the year with just five double-doubles for his career.

"I'm definitely happy with how far I've come," he remarked. "I still feel I have a ways to go. The coaches have been amazing in the offseason, just working with me, and playing in Canada over the summer has really helped me out. I'm playing with a new confidence that I never had before and that's the biggest thing for any basketball player."

"I've been saying it all year, and I think at some point maybe the national media will pick up on it as well, if there's a more improved player over the span of these last four years, I don't know who it is but I know Jordan has to be in that conversation," added Head Coach Herb Sendek.

The Sun Devils jumped out to a 14-3 lead early on, igniting the raucous crowd at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State knocked down six of their 10 three point attempts in the first half, extending their lead to as many as 15 before heading into halftime up 43-33.

"I think it was huge," said sophomore point guard Jahii Carson of the early energy and hot shooting. "The momentum boost that the crowd gave us, the energy that we gave each other and coming out with a lead like that, it's tough to come back. I think we maintained our composure. We got a little lackadaisical in the second half but we looked upon each other right here and we came out with the (win)."

But the Golden Eagles were able to make a run to start the second half, recapturing a one point lead with 11:09 to play after using their physical style of defense to limit the streaky Sun Devil perimeter attack.

Following a timeout though, ASU responded, as Carson scored seven of the team's next nine points to put the Sun Devils ahead for good heading down the stretch.

"Jermaine came to me after the timeout and was like, 'We still need you to be aggressive,'" said Carson. "There's times when I feel like I got to distribute a little bit more but my job is to find the mismatches and exploit them. At the point in time, I felt like I had a mismatch and we needed to run and get some buckets. I felt like they were a little fatigued, so I had to keep pushing the basketball and making plays."

Carson finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-17 shooting from the field, including 3-5 from behind the three point line, and five assists.

Marshall added 21 points, two rebounds, and two assists in the win. It marked the second time in the last three games that the senior has scored 20 or more points for the Sun Devils.

"That's a big one for us," said Carson. "We knew we could come out and compete with them but we came out with a lot of energy. I think all three of us came out and led by example. It's huge." "We're not fazed by anybody. We think we can come out and play with anybody. I think we have some of the top guys in the country at each of our positions and we like to go out there and try to show it."

Things got chippy between the two teams in the second half when, after a five point surge by Marshall to make the score 58-54, he was whistled for a technical foul for taunting. After already being warned in the first half, the Arizona State student section proceeded to throw objects onto the court, resulting in another technical foul against the team before Sendek addressed the crowd over the PA system, imploring them to stop penalizing the team.

Marquette made three of the four free throws to pull within one.

"That's great for us; we know the fans are on board," joked Carson after the game. "We know that they're into the game. We know that they've got our backs, so we try to do our best to play and give them what they need. That's huge. I haven't seen that this year, period, for any game.

"It was intense. I don't think Marquette was expecting it. I don't think Coach Herb was expecting it. We weren't expecting it but it was great. As long as the fans are into it, that gives us a huge boost from the crowd."

Following its win, Arizona State will now get set to face #23 Creighton on Thursday in the Wooden Legacy. It marks yet another early season test for the upstart Sun Devils in their quest to return to the NCAA championship for the first time in four years under Sendek.

"It's really an amazing week of basketball for our team," said the coach. "Not only are we playing, if you count next Sunday as a part of this week, four games this week, but we're playing against incredible competition. A lot has been made of our non-conference schedule and it's bearing out just how good it is right now.

"And now we have a very short turnaround for a Thanksgiving game against Creighton because some of our main guys played a lot of minutes in hard-fought game tonight and we still have three more games to go through this week before the week ends."

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