Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/4/12
TEMPE Being a freshman, it was Jonathan Gilling's first crack versus Arizona at Wells Fargo Arena. Now, his feeling is: it can't get any better than this But maybe it will. "Man, it was fun," he said. "I've never tried anything like this. Our fans did a good a good job of being louder than them. I liked it. It was fun." How could it not feel that way? Arizona State knocked off in-state rival Arizona 87-80 stunting the Wildcats hopes of making the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive season. It also gave Arizona State hope for the future in that it hadn't played this well all season. Next up in the Pac-12 Conference tournament is Stanford on Wednesday in Los Angeles. "It means a lot. It gives us a lot of momentum and after this one a lot of our spirits are up," said Carrick Felix, who had a team-high 23 points. "I think we are ready to go. We have a big opportunity coming up next Wednesday and we just got to prepare. We have to get ready to go tomorrow and execute and get ready for our opponent. I think going into our Pac-12 tournament we are good to go." Even at 10-20 overall, it's better late than ever. "It's by far one of the best games we've put together," Felix said. "We're just going to keep chipping away. We're all coming close and coming together. We really believed in this one and coach put together a great plan." It didn't hurt to have the "best four minutes" of a second half all season as one player said. What those minutes did was keep Arizona State from wilting under what seemed to be too much pressure from UA to end the first half. UA outscored the Sun Devils 8-2 in the final 2 minutes to take a 44-38 lead. But ASU never backed down. Felix was a big reason why, his teammates said. Felix hit back-to-back baskets to move ASU ahead 45-44 90 seconds into the second half. And although the lead see-sawed back and forth and was tied 11 times in the second half, UA couldn't take control. Felix played a huge part, despite being out of pocket the last two weeks with an illness. "I'm not 100 percent," he said. "But last week I missed my guys and I'm glad to be back and they are glad to have me. It's great to have the support." ASU coach Herb Sendek is just glad to have his team playing like it is capable of playing. Just last week, in a loss to UCLA, Sendek told the media that if his team could just make the plays it was capable of, there was a chance to get some wins. ASU has won twice since. "(Sunday) afternoon I thought we did that time and time again," Sendek said of making plays. "I thought a real key for us was the start of the second half, after losing momentum and not executing at the end of the first half. Our guys came out and delivered the first blow and had a seven and zero run. I thought that was a very important stretch of the game for our team psychologically." It sure did something to them offensively. ASU outscored UA 49-36 in the second half. How significant was that? ASU didn't score 49 points in five games this season. Arizona's defense, considered the best in the Pac-12, couldn't hold ASU. ASU shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, and 55.8 percent for the game. "I thought it was a tremendous team effort," Sendek said. "We could pass around superlatives to everybody who contributed and played. Two areas on offense that we have been addressing all year have been our turnovers and our free throw shooting. We have maintained all along that if we could somehow get our turnovers in the neighborhood of 12 or fewer (and) if we could convert better at the line, that would put us in a much better position to be competitive. And, this afternoon both of those happened."
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