LAS VEGAS — It wasn't pretty but it was a win. And for a team in desperation mode, it works.
The No. 6-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils chalked up a 63-57 win over the No. 11 seed Oregon State in opening day of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. The win keeps ASU (21-11) in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament berth, with them among the first handful teams out in most projections.
So, there is still some work to do. Coach Bobby Hurley's team will have a chance to further enhance its resume when it takes the floor in the quarterfinal game on Thursday night against No. 3 USC (22-9).
"I thought it was a gutsy win, kind of like our games, the prior two matchups (against Oregon State)," Hurley said. "Slower pace game, less possessions. The differences were our ability to generate points off their turnovers and also usually when we do a good job in the paint we get a pretty good result. "
The game was more difficult than it probably should have been. Oregon State (11-21) came in ranked only No. 221 in the NET rankings and 212 in the Pomeroy rankings, which are both key barometers in assessing playoff projections.
It was the third meeting between the two teams with both won by ASU.
The Sun Devils only led 29-26 at the half and it was stretch midway through the second half in which the Beavers went eight minutes without a field goal that made the difference. The highlights were provided by D.J Horne who scored back-to-back fast break buckets, the first off a pass from Warren Washington and the second off a nifty assist by Frankie Collins, the latter of which put ASU up 55-43 with 7:10 left
But the Sun Devils have not had many breathers and this wasn't one either. They had turnovers on back-to-back possessions which heped the Beavers cut it to 59-53 with 2:47 to go.
Collins later when to the line with the Sun Devils clinging to a 71-67 lead and 39 seconds remaining only to miss both. There was a long review of who got possession after the miss of the second and ASU was awarded the ball.
ASU then put the game away when reserve guard Jamiya Neal made a pair from the line with six seconds left for the final margin of victory.
"It was really no pressure for me," Neal said. "That's just my job, to be there for my teammates coming off the bench, just trying to be a spark wherever I can, and in this instance, the team needed me to step up and make the free throws, so that's what I did."
ASU shot 39.7% (23-for-58) and benefited from 20 points scored off turnovers. Washington had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing his second double-double. Horne and Desmond Cambridge Jr. each had 13 points.
Cambridge was just 4-for-14 from the field. He arrived at the arena wearing a walking boot on his left foot. After the game Hurley downplayed the injury saying at this point in the season everyone has nagging injuries they are dealing with it and that "was not going to be an excuse." The player later told other media members he was dealing with a toe injury sustained in the Arizona game and the boot was just a precautionary measure to keep that from getting worse.
Oregon Stare shot 34% 18-for-53). It was led by Glenn Taylor Jr. with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Hurley shouldn't have much work to do on a scouting report. His team just squared off against USC on Saturday in the regular season finale, losing 68-65. ASU had a shot to tie that game in the closing seconds but a long distance shot by Horne was off at the buzzer.
USC won the meeting between the teams in Tempe by a more lopsided 77-69 on Jan. 21.
The win marked a bounce back after the last road trip of the season in which ASU lost to not just USC, but UCLA as well.
"I'm pleased with the contributions from a lot of guys and the bounce back from a tough week in L.A," Hurley said. "Again, these tournaments, you survive and advance, no matter how you get it done, and just move on to the next round."
The Sun Devils were again without true freshman Austin Nunez, the first guard off the bench, who has been out three weeks with a concussion.
In games earlier in the day:
No. 9 Colorado (17-15) defeated No. 8 Washington 74-68. Sophomore guard Julian Hammond, who came in averaging 6.1 points a game, scored a team-high 21, while All-Pac 12 selection Tristan da Silva tallied 17. Colorado advances to play No. 1 UCLA (27-4) at 1 p.m. Thursday.
No. 6 Washington State (17-15) extended it win streak to seven games with a 69-52 victory over No. 12 California. Junior guard T.J. Bamba led the Cougars with `17 points. Washington State next faces No. 4 Oregon (18-13) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in quarterfinal play.
No. 11 Stanford upset No. 7 Utah 73-62 in the third of four games on the night. The Cardinal were led by Brandon Angel with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Stanford (13-18) advances to face No. 2 Arizona (25-6) at 7 p.m. Senior center Brendan Carlson had 27 points for Utah (17-15).
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: ASU downs Oregon State and will face USC in Pac-12 tournament