Oregon Overcomes ASU's Comeback

A horrendous first half. Difficulties coping with a zone defense. Inability to stop a transition offense and defend the three-point shot. Sound familiar? Well, it should. Those shortcomings reared themselves again on Thursday night, as the Sun Devils drop their fourth consecutive Pac-10 game at home, falling 83-76 to Oregon.

ASU started the game, again, sluggish on offense, but their solid defense at the time helped them keep Oregon at bay for the first few minutes. A Jason Braxton three point play gave the Devils a 5-4 lead at the 16:20 mark. Unfortunately, the home team wouldn't lead the game for another 22 minutes. Oregon's Jay Anderson makes it 18-10 with 10:42 left in the half. Luke Jackson and Mitch Platt made sure the visitors' lead was kept in tact, and coupled with some early foul trouble on ASU's side, the Ducks enjoyed a 25-12 edge at the 7:39 mark. A minute later ASU's Ike Diogu scores his first points of the game, and adds eight more until the end of the half to put his team's in striking distance 34-28.

Keith Wooden and Jason Braxton made sure the ASU deficit didn't dip again into double digits, as the Devils trail 39-38 at the 17:06 mark of the second half. Steve's Moore three-point play helped ASU reclaim the lead 48-47 with 13:24 to go. Ian Crosswhite, along with some sharp three point shooting by Andre Joseph and James Davis, aided the Ducks to nab the lead back, an edge that wouldn't relinquish again. On defense, they stifled the Sun Devils with zone coverage, and the crowd filed out early into the cold Tempe night, shaking their collective heads over another defeat in Tempe.

Diogu led all players on the floor with 24 points. Moore scored 17, while Braxton chipped in with 13. The junior's eight rebounds and four steals in the game were a career high. Serge Angounou had a very productive 18 minutes, where he scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting. ASU shot a dismal 36.4% in the first half, but was red hot in the second half with 58.1%. For the game, ASU finished with 46.9 shooting. However, all those numbers pail in comparison to Oregon who was 77.3% in the last twenty minutes, and 58.5% for the game. Luke Jackson paced the Ducks with 21 points.

"We gave great effort in the second half," said coach Rob Evans following the game. "But we couldn't get stops. You have to get stops when you're up one or three points. Defensively, in man and zone, we weren't as good as we need to be."

"They did an excellent job in being patient and playing within the offense they had," Evans continued. "They hit some threes, and we were losing guys in the zone. They had stretched us pretty good. We should have done a better job in man-to-man. We do that, and we win the basketball game. They just outplayed us tonight."

Fans aren't the only ones flustered with the Sun Devils' weak performances in the first twenty minutes. "I'm miffed why we don't come out with a grater sense of urgency," stated Evans. "This has been a pattern of this team all year long. We as a coaching staff haven't been able to put our finger on it. Once we get down they want to play, but you have to play from the jump. We haven't developed that."

On the bright side, Evans gave those in attendance an enthusiastic thumbs up. "The crowd was into it. They gave us a great lift. The crowd has been great for us all year long."

So much for the team's first conference win of the season garnering any positive momentum against Oregon. A disheveled group of ASU players must now face an Oregon State team that was embarrassed in Tucson, and one that will not lie down and accept being swept in the Grand Canyon State. The Sun Devils will have to put a consistent effort for 40 minutes, if they wish to finally notch that elusive first Pac-10 win at home. Otherwise, we're destined to witness the same bitter script play out at Wells Fargo Arena…

Sparky's Sundries School was back in session, and that was quite evident in the large and boisterous student section. However, there was a report where some students were thrown out of the game after hurling objects on the floor…Inconsistent and petty calls were all the rage when it came to the game's three man officiating crew. Granted, the Sun Devils more than did their part to lose this game, but the men in stripes seemed at times lopsided towards the visitors…Stevie Moore excreted a lot of energy in the first half chasing down Luke Jackson, and his three points are proof of that. Nevertheless, his second half 14 points, including nine points in a span of two minutes, helped ASU regain the lead.

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