Arizona St.'s Jahii Carson eludes Oregon St.'s Ahmad Starks for 2 of his game high 20 points. - (AP Photo)
Arizona St. dominated a 10 minute stretch from late in the first half until 6 minutes after the break, building a 15 point advantage that tided them over during a defense-driven Oregon St. rally that pulled the Beavers back within 4 points on multiple occasions. The Sun Devils then pulled aJway for a double digit win over a shorthanded Oregon St. squad that ran out of gas.
With Eric Moreland out with a strained back, and then suspended indefinitely shortly before the game for violating team rules, Devon Collier got the start, only his second of the season. But it was Jarmal Reid that got off to a fast start, and in turn got Oregon St. off to an early lead.
Reid had 4 points, 3 assists, and a steal, as the Beavers led until Arizona St. caught up at the 13:45 mark, tieing the game at 13-13. An 8-2 Sun Devil run produced Arizona St.'s first lead, but Ahmad Starks' 3 pointer, one of only 2 he would make on the evening put the Beavers back ahead, and an 8-0 Oregon St. run capped by a spectacular dunk by Collier opened the Beavers' largest lead of the night, 26-18 with 5:41 left before halftime.
Arizona St. turned things around completely after a timeout at that point though, going on a 10-0 run, and eventually an 18-4 burst to the break, taking a 36-30 lead to the locker room, compounded by Oregon St. missing their last 10 shots of the half.
Jahii Carson, who was originally an Oregon St. commit, but subsequently switched to the Sun Devils, led the Arizona St. turn-around, with 10 of what would become his game high 20 points by the break, and Carrick Felix was close behind, with 8 first half points.
Collier hit 5 of 10 shots in the first half, and had 12 points at the break, and 6 rebounds, but Starks and Roberto Nelson were a combined 2 of 11 from the field, a problem that would persist the rest of the night.
And without Moreland, Arizona St. held a 25-13 edge in rebounds in the first half.
It looked like the Sun Devils would turn the game into a rout early in the second half, as their run extended to 28-10 when Evan Gordon knocked down a 3 pointer for a 46-36 lead.
Overmatched by 7'2" Jordan Bachynski, and 7' Ruslan Pateev in his relief, Joe Burton struggled without post support, and the Sun Devils extended the lead to the largest of the game, taking a 52-37 lead at the 14:18 mark.
At that point, Oregon St. coach Craig Robinson took a time out, and took a chance on his bench.
With the freshman Reid, Collier, plus Challe Barton, Olaf Schaftenaar, and Langston Morris-Walker on the floot, Oregon St. went on a 7-0 run. Schaftenaar bookended a 2 minute stretch with no scoring with his first non 3 point basket of the season, and then a more familiar 3 pointer, pulling the Beavers within 55-49 at the 8:47 mark.
"It turns out we do have a bench," Robinson declared. "Now we have to get our starters back to being productive."
The Oregon St. defense shut out Arizona St. for over 5 1/2 minutes, and held the Sun Devils to 3 of 17 shooting over an 11 minute stretch, and pulled within 4 points on a Starks basket with 7 minutes left, trailing 55-51.
But the effort expended began to take a toll on the Beavers, who committed 3 turnovers in 4 possessions, and the deficit was still 4 points, with Oregon St. down 59-55, and the Sun Devils then hit 3 straight shots to reopen a 10 point lead, and send most of the crowd of 4,796 that half filled Gill for the exits as the latest start for a conference game ever had it already getting very late.
Arizona St. eventually took the lead back to 13 points twice, before walk-on Michael Moyer's first 3 pointer made the final 72-62.
After the game, Robinson explained that there was a possibility Moreland might not be suspended, but shortly before the game, it was somehow determined that would not eventuate. Victor Robbins was also involved, and is suspended indefinitely as well.
In addition to Carson, Felix added 18 points and a game high 14 rebounds for the Sun Devils, and Gilling chipped in 14 more. Bachynski just missed a double double, with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Collier finished with 18 points and 8 rebounds, but Starks was the only other Beaver in double digits, and with just 10 points. Nelson and Schaftenaar had 8 points each, and Reid led Oregon St. on the boards, with 11 rebounds. Reid also had 5 assists, but only 6 points, tailing off severely after his fast start.
Shooting was a game long problem for the Beavers, who made only 22 of 59 shots, 37%, and just 5 of 22 3 pointers. Starks was 3 of 11 from the field, and 2 of 7 from behind the arc, and Nelson never got in the flow of the game, making only 2 of 7 shots, and missing all 3 of his 3 pointers.
The Sun Devils continued their advantage on the boards throughout the second half as well, finishing the game with a 45-30 edge.
Arizona St. improved to 14-2, and 3-0 in the Pac-12, tied with UCLA for first place, a half game ahead of Oregon and Washington.
Oregon St. dropped to 0-2 in the Pac-12, and 10-5 for the season. The Beavers will host #3 (at the moment) Arizona (14-1, 2-1) Saturday at 5 PM. The "Cats were upset by the Ducks 70-66 earlier this evening at Matt Court. The Sun Devils visit Oregon on Sunday.