If game-winning plays could be copyrighted, then Arizona State's Herb Sendek might have to pay ex-Valparaiso coach Homer Drew royalties.
The play Sendek drew up to beat North Dakota State (7-2) at the buzzer on Saturday had much in common with Bryce Drew's memorable game-winner that toppled heavily favored Mississippi in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.
With Arizona State tied with North Dakota State and only 1.8 seconds left in regulation, ex-Iowa high school quarterback Chanse Creekmur lofted a length-of-the-court pass to Trent Lockett at the top of the key. Lockett caught the pass, drew the attention of the defense and fired a quick pass to teammate Carrick Felix, who buried a spot-up left-wing 25-footer as time expired to give the Sun Devils a 60-57 victory.
Aside from the fact Felix's shot came on the left wing and Drew's on the right, the primary difference between the two plays was the stakes. Whereas Valparaiso advanced to its lone Sweet 16 in 1998, Arizona State has already dropped games to Pepperdine and DePaul this season and was merely trying to avoid another humbling loss that would have dropped its record to 3-6.
The fact that it was Felix whom Sendek drew the play for was significant. The former Duke signee sank just 20.5 percent of his threes in his first season with the Sun Devils, but he has raised that to a more respectable 32.5 percent so far this season.
"If you think back to him as a shooter a year ago today ... he's got to be among the most improved shooters in the country," Sendek told the Arizona Republic. "Now when he takes a three, I have great confidence it's going in."
- Herb Sendek