February 21st: Aron Baynes does what Deadspin contributor Brian Tesch would later describe as “…the basketball equivalent of a lineman running back a fumble 80 yards for a TD”.
Video courtesy BHarmon1975, YouTube
You knew this was coming. You may be surprised it’s not #1, but I think you’ll find out the reasoning for that when I reveal the top play later.
The one thing you should notice about the video is how the crowd behind Baynes rises to their feet and goes nuts. That’s not the student section – it’s the alumni side, during one of the loudest moments in Beasley I have ever been a part of.
Not only that, this play changed the entire complexion of a ho-hum, defense-oriented stalemate with eventual tourney snub Arizona State. The game was 43-40 with just over 6 minutes remaining when Baynes jumped in front of a James Harden pass. He took it coast to coast, and the rest is history. Looking back I didn’t even remember the game was that close. The Baynes dunk woke the crowd up and started a 16-7 run to close out the game for WSU.
You can’t give Baynes all the credit; the WSU defense held the Sun Devils to just four points in the final 5:31 of the game. But without that play, ASU might have hung around a little while longer. Crowds, and teams themselves, tend to quiet down out of fear when an underdog is keeping a game close in the second half. Even an improved ASU team, we thought, shouldn’t have had much of a shot at beating the Cougs in Pullman. Well, we were wrong. The Sun Devils showed up for this one and the Cougs needed some extra effort to get it done.
Arizona State brought an impressive effort to the Palouse, but fell victim to a 6’10”, 270-pound Australian running the length of the court for a dunk.