Devils Defeat Ducks To Even Pac-10 Record

Maybe the University of Oregon was feeling a bit too comfortable in the Grand Canyon State. After all, with a win in Tucson (and a series sweep over Arizona), as well as a big Football win in the Fiesta Bowl, the visitors from the Northwest were immensely enjoying our Southwestern Hospitality. Rob Evans' team decided to put a stop to that trend, and his Basketball squad put forth their best effort this season. The result was a 95-88 win over Oregon.

The intensity on both teams was evident from the opening tip-off. Oregon led 10-8 at the 16:38 mark, behind the hot shooting of Luke Ridnour who scored 5 points in the opening minutes. A short while later, back-to-back monster dunks by Jason Braxton and Tommie Smith helped ASU jump to 15-12 lead. Awvee Storey's basket helped the Devils jump to their biggest lead – 28-15. This is when the officials decided to even things out, since Oregon couldn't do it on its own. Yes, it may sound like sour grapes, but consider the fact that 15 fouls were called on the home team in the first half, and only nine on the visitors. A 23-12 edge for Oregon in free shooting re-emphasized the unbalanced officiating. So, a 28-15 lead shrunk to 36-34 with 5:04 left in the first half. Oregon regained the lead briefly at the 4:27 mark – 37-36. Chad Prewitt carried his team on its back, and helped ASU regain the lead, and helped the Sun Devils have a 44-41 edge at halftime. A lead that was threatened, but never relinquished.

The second half was still a nip and tuck game, despite the unconscious 75% ASU shot from the field. The refs did do their part with atoning for their anti-ASU officiating, and the home team enjoyed its biggest lead in the second half – 58-49 at the 17:22 mark. With 13:24 left to play, Smith gets called for his fourth foul. Evans and Oregon's coach Kent both remove their jackets, and their players continued the roller coaster pace of the game. With 11:35 left in the game Oregon cuts down the lead to 65-61, and 74-73 at the 6:31 mark. With time dwindling down, Oregon still kept it close, and at the 1:08 mark they trailed only 89-88. Smith fouled out, but Curtis Mileage proved to be the money man down the stretch. His three-point play, plus a free throw increased ASU's lead to 92-88 with only 25 seconds left. The boisterous crowd of 6,849 had one more reason to cheer, and that was for Kyle Dodd who scored on a dunk and sealed the final score of 95-88.

Forgive us if we're running out of superlatives for Prewitt. Once again this season, he broke his career-high for points to the tune of 27 against Oregon. He was 7-10 from the field, and 13-14 from the charity stripe. He also led ASU with 12 boards. Other players in double figures were Millage with 17, Kenny Crandall with 14, and Smith with 10. A 37-34 edge on the boards helped the cause in a mostly tightly played game, not to mention the 57.4% from the field. On a sore note, the Devils' 65.6% free throw shooting prevented the home team from enjoying a more comfortable lead through the game.

Here's what coach Evans had to say after the game: "This is a very big win for the program. Oregon is a team that is very good, and is bound to the NCAA tournament"…."Our guys have gotten better, not only physically but mentally too"…."If they want to look at a warrior, all they have to do is look at Big Red (Prewitt). He came is a chubby freshman and worked hard each off-season. It's tremendous to see all his hard work pay off"…"We had timely stops in the game. And that's because guys are maturing. Early in their careers they wouldn't win this type of game. But they just made their mind up that they will win, and they attacked the basket"…"I don't look at a win jump starting a season. Every day is different. It does help us understand what it takes to win, when faced with a situation like we did against Oregon. It's been a while since upperclassmen won games for us"….(On the Washington road trip) "The team doesn't have to worry about this win, they have to worry about me in practice. They feel good about themselves now, but we have to play the same way at the Washington schools o be successful."

Confidence or compliancy? There's a fine line between these attributes, and The Sun Devils have to be extremely cautious to cross it. One of those two traits will reveal itself when ASU visits the Washington schools this weekend. Needless to say, that coaches and fans alike hope it's the former that prevails. While this was ASU's biggest win to date this season, it only helped erase a bad road trip to the Oregon schools a couple of weeks ago, to even ASU's Pac-10 record at 2-2 (9-4 overall). As strong showing this weekend will prove the maroon and gold faithful that the lofty pre-season expectations, after a shaky start to the season, may have a chance to be fulfilled after all.

Sparky's Sundries: It's been a while since Wells Fargo Arena (or the Student Activity Center for that matter) has been this loud. Coach Evans complimented the "Great crowd… They really gave us a home court advantage."…Speaking of the thunderous crowd, major props go out to ASU's Baseball players. Once again, they came out in full force, and were the life of the student section. Their continuous heckling of Oregon, and it's ever whiny coach was unpleasant to the visitors to say the least…Oregon's Like Ridnour, just like ex-Phoenix Suns Jeff Hornacek, looks anything but a Basketball player. However, just like the former NBA standout, his looks are quite deceiving, and he can FLAT OUT play. Limiting him to 5-15 shooting and only seven points in the second half was a major key to victory…Ducks' coach Ernie Kent drew "Arsenio" cries from the crowd. Kent fashioned an electric blue coat, just like the former TV talk show host Arsenio Hall…

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