The best shot blocker in the country showed up at the right time. With five seconds left, trailing by one, Arizona's T.J. McConnell had momentum going towards the rim, but Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski sent his runner backwards into the hands of Jahii Carson, who took the ball the length of the floor for a dunk. It put the finishing touches on a 69-66 victory for the Sun Devils, the first home victory by Arizona State over a team ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country.
Fans stormed the court following the dunk, but there was one problem: the game wasn't yet over. After review, there were seven-tenths of a second remaining.
After the Sun Devil fans were cleared from the court, Arizona had one final chance. A pass was thrown three-quarters down the court to the right wing, where Nick Johnson had the chance to win the game. Double-teamed, he still managed to hit the front of the rim, but it fell harmlessly to the ground, and the fans stormed the court once again.
The end of regulation and the first overtime were plagued with bad possessions in crucial situations, but back-to-back driving layups by Aaron Gordon and two threes and a layup by Jermaine Marshall signified the shift in the second overtime.
With 40 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 51, Carson had the ball in his hands and was doing everything he could to get into the lane. He tried taking his man off of the dribble and used a high screen, but Arizona stuffed it all.
Herb Sendek called a timeout with seven seconds left on the shot clock and set up a screen and roll that again was stuffed by great team defense from the Wildcats. Carson passed out of a shot attempt from deep, and Marshall, with 21 points at the time, was forced to take a heavily-contested double-clutch three that hit zero rim. Marshall would not score again until his back-to-back threes.
The Wildcat offense had been struggling without Brandon Ashley, out for the year with a foot injury, and it was up to that offense with a chance to win the game. After a timeout, two shot attempts took place remained untouched, and overtime was in the cards. This was only part of the theme of horrible possessions in crucial situations.
Arizona State had the excuse of facing one of the best teams in the country, Arizona's defense could be the loss of Ashley, but Arizona State does have one of the better defensive teams in the conference, and actually ranks second in the Pac-12 in points-per-possession.
Carson finished the first half with only two points, and it took until ten minutes were left in the game for him to start to get into a rhythm, including a circus off-the-backboard up-and-under scoop shot that ended seven straight points for the diminutive Sun Devil. It was part of nine consecutive ASU points scored by Carson during a six-minute stretch. He finished with 17 points and six assists.
This show of incredible little-man quickness was part of that burst.
In a battle of terrible free throw shooting, the Wildcats came out the victor, but really the loser, with the lesser shooting of the two. The first overtime period began with a made free throw to finish a three-point play by Jordan Bachynski, but it was then followed by four consecutive missed free throws by Carson and Johnson.
The win is a big boon for the tournament chances of the Sun Devils, who are currently on the bubble.