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Freshman Jahii Carson leads Arizona State to badly needed win over Stanford

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Arizona State might need to win the Pac-12 Conference tournament to get into the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils remain a long shot to pull it off, but they kept their hopes alive with an entertaining overtime victory over Stanford in the first round today.

And a freshman led the way.

Guard Jahii Carson, co-freshman of the year in the conference, scored a Pac-12 tournament freshman record 34 points in the Sun Devils' 89-88 victory.

It only gets tougher from here. ASU will face No. 1 seed UCLA in a quarterfinal game on Thursday. Beating the Bruins would certainly help improve an NCAA tournament resume short on quality wins outside the conference.

The Sun Devils haven't beaten a ranked opponent all season, but they have faced on three. Chalk that up to bad timing in some regards. The only ranked Pac-12 opponent they faced this season was Arizona, which was ranked both times the Sun Devils lost to the Wildcats.

They have a chance to earn their first victory over a ranked foe Thursday. The Bruins are No. 21 in this week's Associate Press poll, but even with an upset, the Sun Devils will likely need a semifinal win as well to prove they belong in the NCAA field. Wednesday's win was the start they needed.

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