Ducks down Sun Devils in close game

Posted by Jackson Long on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 8:03 pm.

It wasn’t pretty for the majority of the contest, but with two teams possessing almost identical records, an exciting finish was to be expected for Sunday night’s men’s basketball game. Tied at 57-57 with three minutes left in the game, the Ducks scored two dunks and made seven of eight free-throw attempts down the stretch to close out the resilient Sun Devils, 68-65.

Tony Woods, Carlos Emory and Damyean Dotson all scored 14 points each to lead the Ducks. ASU’s frosh phenom Jahii Carson accounted for 20, while Evan Gordon totaled 17.

“Well, we were very fortunate,” Ducks’ head coach Dana Altman said. “On a night that nothing seemed to click — not sure if it was focus, intensity, we just never seemed to get a very good rhythm going — we came out with a win.”

After sacrificing the lead for the first time in the second half when they gave up a 7-0 run, the Ducks responded with a pair of buckets to nullify the deficit to three and eventually regained the lead at 57-56. The Sun Devils tied it up at 57 all with just under four minutes to play.

The deadlock held steady for over a minute until Arsalan Kazemi, who had been nearly invisible all night, slammed in an E.J. Singler miss to put Oregon up two. Arizona State rebutted with a three but another Oregon dunk from Woods made the score 61-60 with 1:49 left.

ASU missed its chance to go ahead with a failed jumper, and a pair of Kazemi foul shots extended the Duck lead to three. Carson scored for the Sun Devils, but Woods was fouled in the act and sunk two FTs for the Ducks. The visitors took a three to tie, but it went awry, and Emory rebounded and went to the line — equating in another two points for Oregon.

Carson was not ready for his squad to leave just yet, and he drilled a trifecta, making it 67-65. E.J. Singler was fouled and made the first of his free throw set, making it 14 of 14 from the line for Oregon on the night. Surprisingly, considering his 81 percent free throw percentage, Singler missed his second attempt — meaning the Sun Devils hustled down the court in hopes of a game-tying three at the horn. A hurried fling went nowhere close and Oregon escaped, extending its home win streak to 18.

***

The first half was anything but convincing for both teams. For Oregon, the initial stage of play paled in comparison to the inspiring and fast-paced first half they delivered against the other Pac-12 squad from the desert on Thursday.

Against Arizona State, the matchup began pretty evenly, with the team tied at 7-7 after three minutes. The Sun Devils then cooked up a 10-4 run, including two three-pointers from Gordon, to take a 19-11 lead.

Even though it didn’t look very dominate, Oregon closed the final 11 minutes of the first half with a 21-9 run. At one point, Damyean Dotson racked up ten consecutive points that entailed two treys. Oregon led at the break, 32-28, despite 37.5 percent, being out-rebounded and scoring half as many points in the paint as Arizona State. In fact, Emory and Dotson were Oregon’s only real effective offense going eight of twelve from the field while the rest of the Ducks shot 4 for 20.

“There never seemed to be a rhythm,” Altman said. “Arizona State is very good at that.”

Dominic Artis scored 10 points for Oregon, making two of three shots from downtown. Kazemi, who in his first 20 minutes of play managed zeros in every category except for one assist, came on strong late, scoring seven points and snagging six boards in his final four minutes of playing time.

Turning point

The game was close all the way through, but the kickers for the Ducks was their come-from-behind battle for points in the paint and rebounds late in the game. Oregon out-boarded ASU, 32-29, and out-scored the opponent down low, 30-28. Another huge key for the Ducks was shooting 14 of 15 from the line, missing only the final attempt. ASU was less than 50 percent at the line at eight of 19.

On the horizon

The Ducks will make their southern California venture this week starting at USC on Thursday and finishing at UCLA on Saturday. USC is currently 7-10 overall and 2-2 in Pac-12 play. UCLA boasts a 14-3 mark and is 3-0 in conference games.