Weary Sun Devils fall to top-seeded Oregon in Pac-12 Tournament

Mar 9, 2017, 7:25 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2017, 2:06 pm

LAS VEGAS — A day after an explosive 98-88 overtime win over the Stanford Cardinal, in which five starters played more than 40 minutes, Arizona State simply didn’t have the legs to compete with top-seeded Oregon Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

The Sun Devils saw their season come to an end, falling 80-57 in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament.

“We hit a wall in terms of fatigue,” coach Bobby Hurley said.

The Sun Devils had their legs for a half, trailing just 34-31 at the break. But even that was a desert mirage as ASU was almost entirely reliant on the marksmanship of Torian Graham, who accounted for more than half the team’s first half production and finished the game with a career-high 32 points.

After the break, the Ducks took control of the game with a 20-9 run fueled by their defense.

The Sun Devils went more than seven minutes without a bucket. Oregon dominated defensively by switching every screen and allowing 6-foot-9 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Jordan Bell to corral guards on the perimeter.

“We got into a lot of bad space on offense and they switched a lot,” Hurley said. “When they switched their bigs, we couldn’t make them pay for it, unfortunately, this game.”

Hurley said the fatigue caught up to the Sun Devils. ASU played into overtime against Stanford in their opening-round victory with five players on the floor for at least 34 minutes.

“Some of that could be a physical toll, just not having the gear you need to go by your man off the dribble and create a play,” Hurley said.

Arizona State was the first Pac-12 team in 13 years to have three players average more than 30 minutes a game. Conversely, Oregon had one. Yet the Sun Devils refused to blame the loss on their workload.

“For me, I didn’t feel fatigued,” said junior guard Kodi Justice. “I mean, we’ve played many a games like this where we’ve played 40-plus minutes and bounced back two days later.”

For Arizona State’s seniors, the loss represented a bittersweet end to their careers. Graham had a spectacular run in the second half during which he combined an alley-oop finish and a four point play that helped the Sun Devils cut what had been a 16-point Oregon lead to eight with 7:16 to play.

“He’s one of the toughest shot makers I’ve ever been around,” Justice said of Graham. “I mean, he makes my job easier. “There are so many teams looking out for him, it leaves me wide open. It gives me easy buckets because of how great a scorer he is, how great a player he is.”

Obinna Oleka, coming off a career-best 27 point, 13-rebound performance against Stanford, finished with just six points, hitting one of seven shots from the field.

Despite finishing under .500 for the second year in a row, Hurley said will the season in a positive light.

“I just think for what we were this year and the adversities that we had and whether it’s transfers and academic redshirts and injuries, that these guys sacrificed and gave as much as they could give,” he said.

“I loved coaching them.”

Arizona State Basketball

Pac-12 logo on the field during the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on November 09, 2019 in Tempe, ...
Associated Press

Pac-12 Conference suffers 36% decrease in revenue in 2020-21

The Pac-12 suffered a 36% decrease in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year due to pandemic-related cancellations in football and basketball.
2 days ago
Frankie Collins #10 of the Michigan Wolverines drives to the basket against Fatts Russell #4 of the...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State lands Michigan transfer, former 4-star recruit Frankie Collins

Point guard Frankie Collins will transfer to Arizona State after playing one season at Michigan, he announced on Twitter.
18 days ago
Jay Heath #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts after scoring a three pointer during the second...
Arizona Sports

Former Sun Devil G Jay Heath transfers to Georgetown

ASU basketball's second-leading scorer from last season, Jay Heath, is transferring to Georgetown, the school announced Saturday morning.
22 days ago
NCAA president Mark Emmert listens during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee h...
Associated Press

NCAA President Mark Emmert to step down no later than 2023

NCAA Board of Governors Chairman John DeGioia announced the move Tuesday and said it was by mutual agreement.
26 days ago
Arizona State Sun Devils fans and cheerleaders raise their arms during the team's game against the ...
Arizona Sports

ASU and SMU basketball reschedule home-and-home series

Arizona State and Southern Methodist basketball rescheduled a home-and-home series with the first game next season in Dallas.
27 days ago
Arizona State guard Jay Heath (5) shoots as Utah guard Lazar Stefanovic, left, defends during the f...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State guard Jay Heath enters transfer portal

Arizona State Sun Devils guard Jay Heath entered his name in the transfer portal on Monday morning after playing just one season in Tempe.
27 days ago
Weary Sun Devils fall to top-seeded Oregon in Pac-12 Tournament