(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
On a night where either team could have pulled out the victory, it was the Arizona State Sun Devils who walked into the locker room feeling a little bit more confident in their Pac-12 conference standing after the game Saturday night in Tempe.
This game was more about what each team didn’t do, than what they did do. That is not to undermine the 21-point lead that ASU had over the Oregon Ducks early in the second half.
However, that 21-point lead was demolished because of ASU’s inability to score, going without a field goal for six minutes in the middle of the second frame.
Jordan Bachynski’s success and stagnancy caused his team’s efforts to ebb and flow throughout the game.
Bachynski had 18 points and five rebounds in the first half, as his teammates were able to get him the ball and allow him to post up under the basket.
“You can’t say enough about the weekend Jordan Bachynski had, once again he was spectacular today, almost perfect from the field, almost perfect from the foul line, nine blocked shots, nine rebounds including the game winning play reminiscent of our Marquette finish,” head coach Herb Sendek said.
His presence was reflective of the Sun Devils’ 25 points in the paint in the first half compared with the Ducks’ 12.
In the second half, Oregon effectively changed its defensive game plan to create what must have been something ASU couldn’t see, an invisible stonewall perhaps, that squandered the Sun Devils’ attempts to get the big man the ball nearly as much as they had in the first half.
Oregon was a completely different team defensively in the second half, eliciting the hard-fought, but not unexpected, comeback within the second half of play.
Three huge keys for this comeback were the unrelenting full-court press that tripped up Carson, the man defense that made it nearly impossible for ASU to inbound the ball under the hoop and the 21 points Oregon had off of turnovers because of it all.
When asked what frustrated him the most, Jordan Bachynski had one answer: “Their pressure.”
“I think their press bothered us a little more than we’d like to admit,” Bachynski said. “They work hard, they are in great shape and to do that in a game where you played two nights before and only had a day off, it’s unreal that they were able to keep that high intensity the whole game.”
Many roles were reversed in the tight matchup. Bachynski’s stats resembled those of Carson, and vice versa. Carson was more of a rebounding factor with 12 on the night, whereas Bachynski rounded up 26 points by the end of the game as well as the game-winning block.
“I knew they were going to attack and my main concern was that we didn’t give up a three and I see a guy cut out of the corner of my eye and I knew that I had to block that and I came up with it,” Bachynski said.
Similarly, Oregon shot 25 percent from the field in the first half, while ASU rained in a whopping 68.2 percent causing a daunting deficit at halftime for the Ducks.
Come the second half however, and those numbers would switch. Oregon had the upper hand with a second half percentage of 48.6, leaving ASU in the dust at 25 percent, coincidentally equivalent to Oregon’s first-half dismal effort.
This was also one of very few games this season where ASU looked stronger in the first half, as they are usually a second-half team.
The Sun Devil’s first half was characterized by up-tempo, smart, explosive basketball mixed with a few pinches of good luck. Oregon was definitely better at moving the ball around in the first half while ASU turned the ball over, the Ducks were just unable to capitalize on Sun Devil mistakes.
ASU finished under the basket, stayed out of foul trouble and out rebounded Oregon in the first half, inciting a good recipe for the rest of the game.
A couple Oregon wrenches were thrown into the pot in the second half, causing the Sun Devils to rush their shots, blow opportunities on the fast break, and at times, just fail to play smart basketball.
If both teams had executed differently or put together two full halves of basketball, this game could have put a “W” on either teams’ record. However, the story of the night was Jordan Bachynski and it was he who came away with the indispensible walk-off block to close the book on the Ducks.
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