TEMPE — Maybe the biggest diplomatic victory in American history came in 1948, when the United States enacted Marshall Plan as a way to rebuild Europe following World War II.
Maybe the biggest diplomatic victory in Arizona State history came on Friday night, with the Sun Devils’ own Marshall plan.
In the end, Jahii Carson almost stole the show from Jermaine Marshall. The show, and the ball, and the momentum.
But while Carson capitalized for the last several minutes of regulation, Marshall exploded once more, and Arizona State dealt visiting Arizona just its second loss of the season Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sun Devils won 69-66 in double overtime in part because of Marshall.
Carson will get the glory after his breakaway dunk closed out the Sun Devils’ win before fans prematurely rushed the court with 0.7 of a second left. The praise may go to Jordan Bachynski, whose block of a T.J. McConnell shot attempt led to Carson’s breakaway dunk.
But it should go to Marshall, who carried the Sun Devils early and carried them late, finishing with 29 points, tying a season-high for individual points against the Wildcats.
“Whenever Jermaine is on the floor, whether he scores or doesn’t, his presence brings a lot,” Carson said. “The defense has to focus on him. It takes a huge toll. Then when they forget about him, he makes a huge contribution to our team. He’s all about the team, and when you have a guy who’s older and unselfish, it just adds to the spirit of our team.”
For so much of the game, Marshall — who missed the teams’ January matchup, an Arizona blowout win — was the man for Arizona State, as the Penn State transfer threw the Sun Devils on his back to go along for the ride. With Carson neutralized on the perimeter by Nick Johnson and McConnell and Bachynski handled by Kaleb Tarczewski in the post, Marshall punished Arizona’s young Rondae Hollis-Jefferson time and time again.
Marshall scored four of the Sun Devils’ first eight points and seven of their first 14.
A Marshall three-pointer from the corner gave the Sun Devils a 29-28 lead. A three-point play put ASU up 36-34 a few minutes later minutes later. Another drive, another bucket, a 39-38 lead.
“Jermaine is just incredible,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. “It just seems like the bigger the moment, regardless of what’s happened previously, he has an amazing capacity to make a big play, to be at his best when the game is on the line.”
Then, silence, as Carson took control of the offense. Or, at least, he took control of the ball, driving to the basket haphazardly, dribbling in circles, seemingly finding any excuse to drive and shoot.
Marshall stalled at 21 points for more than 19 minutes of game time, rarely attempting a shot, rarely touching the ball. But with 1:34 left in double-overtime and staring at a 63-59 deficit, the Devils’ shooter dropped in a three-pointer.
Less than 40 seconds later, another. Then, a go-ahead layup with 14 seconds left by Marshall put the Sun Devils on top for good. In addition to his 29 points, he had five rebounds and a steal. He was 11 of 23 from the field.
“With Hollis-Jefferson locking in on me, Jordan and Jahii did a great job carrying us the whole time late in the game and in the first overtime,” Marshall said. “I said to Jahii after the game, ‘You did a great job carrying us.’ ”
Diplomacy never sounded so authentic.