Jahii Carson has always loved the spotlight, embracing the hype that has followed him since his high school days.
Faced with the brightest lights of his young career, the fabulous freshman rose above everyone else.
Carson scored five of his 34 points in overtime in his first college postseason game, helping Arizona State hold off Stanford 89-88 in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday in Las Vegas. Carson’s 34 points were the most by a freshman in tournament history.
“I just try to come up big on big stages,” Carson said. “I know my teammates look a lot for me to create for them and create for myself, and I try to go out there and make big plays.”
Meeting for the second time this season, the Cardinal and Sun Devils traded 3-pointers, dunks and small runs in an entertaining opener to the four-day tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Arizona State (21-11), the tournament’s ninth seed, went up six with about 2 minutes left in regulation, but Stanford (18-14) rallied, tying it at 79 on Aaron Bright’s four-point play with 38 seconds left.
Carson, who missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation, put Arizona State up three with a layup in overtime, and Evan Gordon hit 5 of 6 free throws to send the Sun Devils to the quarterfinals.
Carrick Felix had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Gordon made 9 of 11 free throws to finish with 16 points, and Jonathan Gilling added 14 for the Sun Devils.
Bright hit six 3-pointers and had 27 points, Dwight Powell had 23 points, and Josh Huestis added 17 for the eighth-seeded Cardinal.
Colorado 74, Oregon State 68: Spencer Dinwiddie scored 20 points and the Buffaloes picked up a much-needed win at the Pac-12 tournament, holding off the Beavers.
Colorado (21-10) needed a couple of wins in Las Vegas to boost its NCAA chances and got off to a good start by dominating Oregon State (14-18), the No. 12 seed, defensively most of the second half.
Xavier Johnson had 16 points and Andre Roberson 12 for the fifth-seeded Buffaloes.
Utah 69, Southern Cal 66: Jarred DuBois scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, Jordan Loveridge added 15 points and the Runnin’ Utes opened the Pac-12 tournament with a win over the short-handed Trojans.
Utah (14-17) hounded seventh-seeded USC defensively in the first half and withstood a couple of second-half runs by the Trojans.
USC (14-18) gave Utah, the No. 10 seed, a run despite playing without leading rebounder Dewayne Dedmon and backup center James Blasczyk, who were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules.