In a crucial juncture in Sunday’s matchup against Arizona State and the No. 23 Oregon Ducks, ASU head coach Bobby Hurley’s fiery passion caught up with him once more.
Picking up his third technical foul in a conference game this season, Hurley lost control -- this time with 4:57 left in the second half and his team down seven points en route to a 91-74 ASU loss in front of 6,760 at Wells Fargo Arena.
Hurley's technical was the first of a downward spiraling sequence of events for the Sun Devils as they saw a potentially manageable seven-point deficit quickly slip out of their reach.
The scene on Sunday night was similar to the Sun Devils’ game against the Arizona Wildcats on Jan. 3 when ASU lost 94-82 after being down six points with 1:14 left after Hurley got ejected with one minute remaining,
“There was frustration and you got to give credit to Oregon for that,” Hurley said. “They got physical wing plays who just drive it into you.”
With the loss, ASU falls to 12-10 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-12.
Oregon improved to 18-4, 7-2 to stay atop of the conference standings. Before Sunday’s matchup, Oregon went to Tucson Thursday night and defeated the Arizona Wildcats 83-75.
Against ASU on Sunday, the physical play of the Ducks allowed them to go 29 of 38 from the charity stripe on the night. In the second half, the Ducks got to the line 32 times and made 25 of those attempts.
“I have to watch the tape and see about the fouls and the nine free throws in a 1:15, that’s quite a bit,” Hurley said.
The sequence which caused Hurley to be called for a technical started with ASU senior guard Gerry Blakes having a chance to cut the Ducks’ lead down to four points after a flashy crossover dribble sent Oregon sophomore forward Dillon Brooks tripping back on his heels.
But as Blakes’ three-pointer fell short – hitting the front of the rim – the Ducks raced back on offense to capitalize on yet another ASU miss from the field.
Dorsey proceeded to make three free throws to once again put the Ducks’ lead into double digits and stay that way for the rest of the game.
"This game was winnable for some part of it and it got away from us the second half,” Hurley said.
Coming into Sunday’s game, Oregon’s leading scorer, Brooks, was averaging 16.6 points a game. He ended the game going 5 of 11 from the field, scoring 18 points.
An even bigger threat was Oregon senior forward Chris Boucher who scored 26 points on 8 of 12 shooting from the field, 4 of 8 from three-point range.
Boucher came up big for the Ducks with just under 13 minutes as he nailed two three-pointers after ASU went on a 6-0 run over a 1:30 span to cut the Ducks lead to three points.
All night, the Ducks capitalized on the Sun Devils’ lapses on defense – both in the half court and transition – allowing ample opportunities for Oregon to find the open man on the court.
"The way they separated themselves was their athletic abilities, their length and their abilities to create turnovers with that and their ability to block shots,” Hurley said.
Oregon had 29 points off ASU’s 15 turnovers in comparison to ASU’s 17 points off Oregon’s 16 turnovers.
Oregon shot 65 percent in the second half, 13 of 20, and 50.9 percent from the field overall. ASU shot 10 of 31 in the second half and was 24 of 61 – 39.3 percent – to end the night.
"I just felt like as a team we didn't stay together in some areas and some spurts in the second half and I would say that was a pivotal part in the game,” Blakes said.
Oregon started the game 0 of 4, but hit four straight to pull away to a 13-0 lead with 15:03 left in the first half.
But after ASU started to cut into the Ducks’ lead with five consecutive points by Oleka, the Sun Devils went on a 21-6 run of their own.
Pulling ahead 26-22 off Holder’s three-pointer with 5:02, the Sun Devils’ bench was up and celebrating, but not for long.
After a missed basket by Holder and an ASU turnover in two consecutive possessions, Oregon capitalized by scoring two baskets and re-gaining the lead 27-26 with 3:41 left in the first half.
By halftime, ASU was down 37-36 after Oregon managed to put together a 6-0 run over 53 seconds. Oleka’s three-pointer with six seconds to end the half cut the lead to 37-36.
“Not happy with our start,” Hurley said. “And then I do like our response in the first half to climb back into the ball game. We still I thought missed some layups and missed some free throws and maybe blew an opportunity to possibility have a lead at halftime.”
Oleka scored a team-high 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field and grabbed down four rebounds and dished out four assists.