ASU’s hot shooting offsets Sheffield’s big night 98-93

December 30, 2016

NCAA, Stanford Cardinal

Arizona State guard Torian Graham, right, dribbles next to Stanford forward Cameron Walker (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Jeremy Harness

STANFORD – Marcus Sheffield had a huge night, and it progressively got bigger as the game went along.

Arizona State, however, trumped everything that Sheffield and his Stanford teammates did Friday night with a remarkable shooting performance in holding off the Cardinal, 98-93, inside a half-empty Maples Pavilion in both teams’ Pac-12 season debuts.

Sheffield finished the night with 35 points by making an astonishing 11 of his 15 shots, including connecting on four of his six attempts from behind the 3-point line. He had 15 points in the first half and helped keep the Cardinal in the game.

Although Stanford hung tough, Arizona State’s shooting proved to be too much to handle in the opening 20 minutes. The Sun Devils made seven of their 12 shots from behind the 3-point line – which is good for 58 percent – while also making 59 percent of their field goals overall.

The two teams went back and forth for the better part of the half, thanks to Sheffield’s efforts, but ASU broke the game wide open in the final minutes while the Cardinal cooled off from the field.

Arizona State extended their lead to 40-33 when Shannon Evans II knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:16 left in the first half. At this point, the Sun Devils had hit an astonishing six of their 11 shots from beyond the arc, which is good for 55 percent.

To clearly illustrate how hot Arizona State was in the first half, Torian Graham drove the length of the court and hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sun Devils a commanding 52-39 lead at the break.

Graham scored 19 first-half points himself, and he played a pivotal part in racing away from the Cardinal just before halftime, and he continued his stellar play through the second half, finishing with 30 points.

However, coming out of the break, it was the Cardinal who came out swinging, quickly narrowing ASU’s lead to eight points in the first two minutes of the second half.

Stanford, to its credit, shot the ball fairly well. The Cardinal shot 53 percent from the field, but they only made only eight of their 24 shots from 3-point territory, and that proved to be the biggest difference on Friday.

They eventually narrowed the lead to four on Dorian Pickens’ baseline jumper with 12:40 left. But the Sun Devils, as they had in the first half, thwarted any attempt by Stanford to get as close as one possession.

By the time the Cardinal got that close, it was too late, because the Cardinal were forced to play the fouling game in the hopes that Arizona State would start missing key free throws. The Sun Devils did not allow that to happen, as they made just about every clutch foul shot they needed to make.

The team made 33 of their 43 free throws on Friday, which was good for 77 percent, which is a very good mark for an entire team.

 

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