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ASU Men’s Basketball: Sun Devils surge late, but it’s not enough to beat No. 23 Oregon

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

 

Although Arizona State failed to score in the first five minutes of its game against No. 23 Oregon, that didn’t keep the Sun Devils from responding with yet another competitive flurry before ultimately falling to the Ducks, 91-74.

Neither team came out particularly sharp, and Oregon senior forward Chris Boucher was the first player to put points on the board nearly three minutes into the game. From there, the Ducks sprinted out to a 13-0 lead before ASU junior forward Obi Oleka threw down a dunk for the Sun Devils’ first points of the game.

The Sun Devils responded with a 9-0 run over a three-minute span to make the competitive once again. They would take their first lead of the game after a three from senior forward Willie Atwood to make the score 23-20 with 6:41 left in the first half.

At the half, Oregon led 37-36 behind a stellar first-half effort from senior forward Chris Boucher. The forward posted 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, and he would set a new career-high with over 12 minutes remaining in the game. Boucher finished the night with 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.

Oregon came out firing in the second half, and, in less than two minutes, found themselves at the line eight times. Back-to-back threes from Boucher stretched Oregon’s lead to 61-50 at the with 12:17 remaining.

The Ducks began to pull away at as ASU struggled to score over a three-minute stretch at the midway-point of the second half. Oregon found particular success at the free-throw line, shooting 25-of-32  from the charity stripe in the second half.

As has become the norm this season, the Sun Devils made a late-push. A three from sophomore guard Tra Holder cut the lead to single-digits with 5:31 remaining to get the comeback-effort started.

With 4:57 remaining, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley received a technical foul, and Oregon was able to stretch its lead back to double-digits. The Ducks would keep that lead – at one point stretching it to 16 points – before ending their weekend with two wins in Arizona.

Player of the game: Chris Boucher

The senior forward was a matchup issue the entire game, and his 26 points and four three pointers were both career highs. When the Sun Devils went into a trapping defense, Boucher took advantage of several slow rotations to keep ASU at bay.

Boucher was also a menace on defense, racking up 10 rebounds and seven blocks.

Biggest concern: Tra Holder

Although Holder made a late surge, the sophomore guard finished just 3-of-12 from the floor. Holder was a quiet 2-of-6 in ASU’s win against Oregon State, and he was just as quiet against Oregon. He finished with 20 points for the weekend, his lowest two-game stretch of Pac-12 play. While ASU received strong contributions from Oleka and sophomore guard Kodi Justice, ASU needs its leading scorer to perform against the top competition.

Stat of the night: Oregon 29-of-38 from the free-throw line

The Ducks shot 21 more free throws than the Sun Devils and finished 29-of-38 from the line. Particularly, Oregon lived at the line in the second half and went 25-of-32 while shooting into the Curtain of Distraction.

Unsung hero: Obi Oleka

Oleka was the player to get the Sun Devils going in the first half, and he was active on offense all night. His 17 points were a team-high, and his activity – while at times reckless and out of control – kept ASU on the favorable side of several scramble-plays.

What’s next?

ASU hits the road to Seattle to play Washington on February 3.

 

You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at zacpacleb@gmail.com

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