Devils Get One Moore opportunity

Perhaps all Steve Moore needed was a little home cooking last week in Los Angeles to help turn his season around. Evidently, he returned to the valley with leftovers. Moore scored 17 of his 22 points in the second-half, keying Arizona State's rally in a 66-56 victory over the Oregon Ducks to keep alive their hopes for the NCAA tournament. Ike Diogu led the Sun Devils with 23 points of his own on 9-for-15 shooting and also added 9 rebounds.

"It was real big," Moore said of the win. "People have been writing us off but coach was very optimistic. He was like ‘If they say we're playing our way out of the tournament, we must be in."

The Sun Devils didn't start the game playing like a tournament bid was on the line, falling behind 10-2. Freshman Malik Hairston scored 8 straight points to start the game for the Ducks, who started 2 freshman and 3 sophomores and had just one junior play in the game.

The Devils shot just 9-for-32 in the first half, good for 28 percent. Ike Diogu was 4-for-6, leaving the rest of the team at just 19 percent and down by 5 points at halftime.

Oregon (12-10, 4-9 Pac-10) led for much of the game, and added to their 30-25 halftime lead by opening the second half with an 8-0 run. Hairston started the half with a quick 3-point-play and Mitch Platt finished the run with a lay up and added a free throw to make the score 38-25. Hairston led the Ducks in scoring with 18.

Arizona State (18-9, 7-8 Pac-10) responded with a 19-4 run of their own, with Steve Moore's 3-pointer tying the game at 42 for the first time since the opening minutes.

Moore was 7-for-7 on field goals inside the arc, and was aggressive in the second half in penetrating towards the basket.

"We tried not to settle, we settled a whole bunch in the first half and I think that's what put us behind," Moore said. "So we just tried to penetrate, and either get the ball inside to Ike or just penetrate and get the ball inside the hole."

"I thought Steve Moore did just a tremendous job defensively, and provided a lot of energy for this basketball team," said Coach Rob Evans of his senior guard. "When Steve shows patience and gets shots off the offense he's a very good shooter."

The Devils continued the comeback and took their first lead at 50-49 on Jason Braxton's steal and two-handed dunk in the open court. The Ducks bounced back scoring 4 straight points, before relinquishing the lead for good when Ike Diogu hit a 15-foot jumper to put the Devils up for good at 54-53.

That's when the Devils really turned on the D. ASU forced 19 Oregon turnovers while committing just 6 of their own, as one of the youngest teams in the country faltered in the heat of battle down the stretch.

"That's the best defense we've played in a long time," Coach Evans said of his team's second half defense. "Tonight, the last 10 minutes defensively were as good as we've played in awhile."

And on a night that resembled weather more akin to Eugene than Tempe, Arizona State played the ultimate team defense by defending their home court.

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