ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL
Arizona State basketball’s comeback falls short in loss to Oregon
TEMPE — The Arizona State men’s basketball team needed to sweep the Oregon schools in order to keep pace with others who are on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament.
But unfortunately for ASU (16-8, 7-6 Pac-12), it failed to accomplish that feat on Saturday night with a loss to the Oregon Ducks (14-10, 8-5) at Desert Financial Arena. A victory would have completed the season sweep of the Beaver State schools.
It was a rare off-night for the team’s best scorer in Desmond Cambridge Jr., who failed to get a point until the second half and finished the game with only six on 2-of-8 shooting. Both of his field goals were 3s.
And unfortunately for Arizona State, Cambridge’s final shot — a three-pointer in the dying seconds that would’ve sent the game to overtime — did not fall and led to two Oregon free throws to ice the game at 75-70.
As a team, ASU shot 44% from the field, 33% from deep (8-for-24) and 80% from the free throw line (8-of-10). Compare that to Oregon, who finished the game shooting 47-43-66 and had a second-half offensive explosion of 59% from the floor and an astounding 63% from 3 (5-of-8).
Arizona State led Oregon 30-27 at halftime, but a 14-4 Ducks run to start the second that turned into a 27-13 advantage was all they needed to hold on to the lead despite the Sun Devils battling all the way back to cut the deficit to just one point.
“It was a real battle — two teams were pretty desperate to win,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame. “I think the first eight minutes of the second half cost us.
“They built a lead and we couldn’t overcome it and take the lead back even though guys out there were fighting like heck and scrambling and trying to make plays. We just didn’t defend. … Tough pill to swallow but I appreciated the effort of the guys tonight.”
Both teams’ defenses also caused havoc by creating a total of 31 turnovers, which the Sun Devils led 17-14. However, Oregon was just able to best Arizona State in converting points off those turnovers at a 21-22 clip.
Fouls also had a big factor in the game, as the Sun Devils committed a total of 24 fouls compared to the Ducks’ 13. That caused ASU’s 7-foot center Warren Washington to foul out late in the contest and saw both teams receive technicals, including Hurley. Oregon got to the charity stripe 26 times compared to Arizona State’s 10 attempts.
“I mean it was a circus out there, I’ll just leave it at that. … I liked (Alonzo) Gaffney’s minutes, though,” Hurley said. “For Warren being out, he came in and was really active. We were able to switch everything.
“We started playing defense the way we’re capable of in those minutes, so we overcame that. … So certainly foul trouble impacted the type of lineups that we had out there.”
The Sun Devils were led by DJ Horne, who finished the contest tied for a game-high 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting (41%), including 2-for-7 from three-point range (29%) and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. He also added three assists, four rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes played.
Check out some of the first-half highlights by the Sun Devils. ASU leads 30-27 over Oregon. @AZSportsDevils
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The Sun Devils have now lost five of their last six and appear to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the big dance in March.
And with the gauntlet of No. 5 Arizona, No. 9 UCLA and USC all on the road to end the regular season after facing the Bay Area and mountain schools, winning the Pac-12 Tournament might be the only way Arizona State can make the NCAA Tournament unless they get some real results in those three games.
ASU travels up to the Bay Area to tip off against the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday at 8 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.