No. 20 Sun Devils rally from 18 down to beat Georgia 76-74
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley thought his team showed the kind of toughness it needs to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season.
“I just think it’s a great ceiling with great potential,” he said. “We’re a determined group, a resilient group, and a lot of teams would’ve back out of this one maybe at halftime.”
Martin gave the Sun Devils (8-1) their first lead with a baseline jumper that made it 71-70 with 2:43 remaining. His basket rewarded Arizona State for chipping away long enough to earn a hard victory.
“He’s not afraid of the moment at all in these tough environments,” Hurley said. “He really has a great spirt about him. He’s a winner.”
Rayshaun Hammonds and Tyree Crump each scored 19 points for Georgia (5-4), though Hammonds fouled out with 4:41 remaining. Nicolas Claxton had nine points and 13 rebounds, but the Bulldogs, looking for their first signature win under coach Tom Crean, were undone by 10 turnovers that led to 12 Arizona State points in the second half.
“Losing Rayshaun killed us,” Crean said. “He was having a really good game. He can do so many things. He’s our best in-bounder. He reads situations. He can space, and he can play in and out. We gambled and lost.”
Dort intercepted a long inbound pass from Jordan Harris before the Bulldogs’ last chance to win fell short on Claxton’s air-ball 16-footer.
The victory was a strong statement for the Sun Devils after losing last week to No. 6 Nevada in Los Angeles, but they stayed poised when the Bulldogs built a comfortable lead by hitting 20 free throws in the first half.
Hurley, whose team advanced last season to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years, reminded his players that it was Arizona State’s turn to play the hunter.
“We already knew this year that Mississippi State came back on us,” he said. “We had a big lead, and they made it very competitive, and then we ended up winning that one. Nevada just recently had the big lead, and they came back, so it was kind of like, ‘Why not us?'”
Crump had 16 points in the first half, his best move coming on a feed from Claxton. Cutting through the lane, Crump took the pass, paused quickly to wait for a defender to clear and laid the ball off the glass for a nine-point lead.
He followed with consecutive 3s before hitting four of five free throws on a single possession. Hurley was called for a technical foul after Dort bumped him on a 3-point attempt, and Crump closed a 20-3 run to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 18.
White, a sophomore from Wheeler High School in suburban Atlanta, was the only player in the double figures in the first half for Arizona State.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils gave a strong indication of their depth as Dort, their leading scorer, was just 2 for 10 from the field and finished with 10 points. Seven of his points came on free throws. … Martin tied a career-high in points but was 0 for 3 beyond the arc. … Cheatam had 10 rebounds.
Georgia: Hammonds scored 14 points in the opening 20 minutes. He gave Georgia a 42-29 lead with a crossover dribble down the lane and a spin move that brought a roar from the crowd. Crump hit a 3 to give the Bulldogs a 70-64 lead, but he wasn’t a factor late, going 1 for 4 in the second half.
Arizona State: Visits Vanderbilt on Monday before hosting No. 1 Kansas next Saturday.
Georgia: Hosts Oakland on Tuesday and visits Georgia Tech next Saturday.