(Photo: Blake Benard/WCSN)
A lackluster shooting night, a multitude of turnovers, and a bevy of fouls doomed the Arizona State Sun Devils as they fell to the Oregon Ducks, 91-74.
Oregon forward Chris Boucher had a great game for the Ducks, securing a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double in the game. ASU junior forward Obinna Oleka had arguably his best game this season, racking up 17 points, grabbing four boards, and dishing out two assists.
The game did not start out the way that ASU had hoped, with the Sun Devils giving up a 13-0 run to begin the contest. An 0-for-7 shooting start put them in a hole until a dunk by Oleka stopped the bleeding and put ASU on the scoreboard just over five minutes into the game.
Oleka nailed a three on the next possession to cap a 5-0 run that got the Sun Devil offense running. Over the next seven minutes, ASU went on a 15-7 run spearheaded by six points from senior forward Eric Jacobsen.
Tied at 20-20 with just over seven minutes remaining in the first half, neither team extended their lead more than four points and the Ducks took a slim 37-36 lead into the half.
“I do like our response,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. “We still missed some layups and missed some free throws and maybe blew an opportunity to possibly have a lead at halftime with some of those things that were happening.”
The major difference for ASU was its three-point shooting. Statistically the worst three-point shooting team in the conference, the Sun Devils shot 6-for-13 from beyond the arc in the first half. Despite being outrebounded and turning the ball over eight times, the buckets from long distance kept ASU in the game.
Much like the first half, Oregon got out of the gate quick jumping out to an 11-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half. Boucher did the most significant damage to the Sun Devils, beginning the half making his first three shots and scoring 10 quick points.
“He was flawless,” Hurley said. “With his shooting, he was driving, he was dunking it, he was blocking shots. He’s a big time player.”
The Ducks also made a lot of their hay at the free throw line in the second half. In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Oregon went a perfect 13-for-13 from the line. They ended the game going 25-for-32 on free throws in the second half alone.
Though ASU shot well in the first half, that early shooting did not carry over into the second. The Sun Devils were not able to get anything to go down.
ASU followed up a 47 percent shooting first half with a disappointing 32 percent shooting performance in the second half. The Sun Devils moved the ball well on offense in the half court and got plenty of open looks but weren’t able to convert on the opportunities.
On the boards, ASU kept it close but was outrebounded for the game 40-31. In the second half when things were not falling the Sun Devils’ way, Oregon grabbed most of the rebounds killing any chance ASU had of getting easy second-chance points or extra possessions.
Oregon deployed a full-court press defense on ASU throughout the game as well, and it had relative success, forcing 17 Sun Devil turnovers. The Ducks capitalized on the extra opportunities, scoring 29 of their points off forced turnovers.
“The guys really had a good second half,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “Our activity defensively was good, we hit our free throws, and we had an edge on the boards. I think we beat (ASU) by nine on the boards for the game. Our traps bothered (ASU) a bit and took their offense out of some stuff.”
The Ducks finished a successful weeklong road trip, defeating No. 18 Arizona earlier in the week before their win against ASU in Tempe on Sunday. They head back home to face Colorado on Thursday.
For the Sun Devils, they will head on the road to the Northwest this week to face Washington on Wednesday and Washington State on Saturday.