TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — When Tra Holder and Shannon Evans are both rolling, Arizona State looks like the team that shot off to a 12-0 start this season.
That hasn’t happened much in Pac-12 play, but the two senior guards found that elusive groove in the second half Saturday and the rest of the No. 21 Sun Devils joined in for an 80-66 victory over Colorado.
“It felt like it was the summertime. It felt like we were in Barcelona (on a summer trip). That’s how we were playing,” Evans said. “Guys just kept making shots.”
Arizona State (16-5, 4-5 Pac-12) went 12-0 against nonconference opponents this season, including wins over Xavier and at Kansas, while rising as high as No. 2 in the national rankings. But the Pac-12 has been tough on the Sun Devils, who sorely needed a win after losing in overtime at home to Utah on Thursday night.
Holder and Evans each hit four of six 3-pointers in the second half after the Sun Devils missed all 10 3-point attempts in the first.
Arizona State made 10 of 21 3s in the second half.
Holder scored 18 of his 22 points and Evans 13 of his 19 after halftime.
“To see it come alive like that and spread through multiple guys, it was fun,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “It reminded me a lot of who we’ve been most of the season.”
The Buffaloes (12-10, 4-6), meanwhile, had off shooting nights from usually dependable players. McKinley Wright went 1 of 10, missed all four of his 3-pointers and scored two points. George King was 3 of 8 for eight points but did grab 10 rebounds.
“Arizona State is kind of the same way,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “When their big dogs Holder and Evans don’t really produce for them, they have problems. We’re the same way with George and McKinley. We aren’t losing these games because of fight. We are not losing them because of lack of toughness. We lost because of the free throw differential (Arizona State 16 for 22, Colorado 8 of 9) and our inability to get stops in the second half, in both games.”
He noted that Arizona scored 50 points against the Buffaloes in the second half Thursday night in Tucson, and Arizona State got 48 in the second half Saturday night as Colorado lost its third straight Pac-12 game.
Dominique Collier scored 11 points for the Buffaloes. Namon Wright and Lucas Siewert added 10 apiece.
De’Quon Lake and Romello White each scored 10 for the Sun Devils. Arizona State avenged a Jan. 4 overtime loss at Colorado.
The Sun Devils never trailed in the first half but were never up by more than eight points, either, failing to make a 3 in a half for the first time since Jan. 12 last year at Arizona.
Colorado wasn’t much better from long range in the first 20 minutes, going 2 for 10 on 3s.
But one of the makes, by Collier with 1:03 to play in the half, tied it at 30. Evans made two free throws and D’Shawn Schwartz scored inside for Colorado to make it 32-all at the break.
Colorado had a tough trip to the desert but now has three home games to try to move back up toward the middle of the pack in the Pac-12.
Arizona State fans had to be thrilled to see Holder and Evans get it going, as they did during their 12-0 nonconference run. If that means more confidence, the Sun Devils could climb back into things with some success on the road next week.
THE ‘3’ RETURNS
Vitaliy Shibel ended Arizona State’s long-range drought with a 3-pointer to open the second half. King’s first basket of the night gave Colorado its first lead, 36-35, with 18:16 to play.
It was the first of seven lead changes and seven ties before Schwartz’s 3 put the Buffaloes up 51-47 with 10:52 left. Holder responded with consecutive 3s, the second after a Colorado turnover, and the Sun Devils were back on top 53-50 with 10:01 to go. The Buffaloes never caught up again.
Evans made a 3, Holder sank another, then Evans made one more and it was 65-55 with 6:16 to go. Evans’ final 3 put the Sun Devils ahead 72-60 with 3:35 left.
Colorado: Hosts Utah on Friday night.
Arizona State: At Washington on Thursday night.
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