Second-Half Sorrow

The Oregon Ducks needed this one. They had to grab a win in Tempe in order to keep themselves in good standing with the NCAA Selection Committee. When it came down to it in the second half, though, they couldn't get it done, and Arizona State wound up being the team in a good position after pulling out the 91-77 win.

After an amazing first half where Luke Jackson scored 12 points and Luke Ridnour had 20, the Ducks totally fell apart at the start of the second period. With Curtis Millage and Ike Diago leading the way, the Sun Devils opened up a 55-47 lead before the Ducks scored more than two points.

Oregon made a valiant effort at a comeback, cutting the ASU lead to only two points at 58-56 after a James Davis hoop and free throw. The Ducks went cold following that free throw and ASU went on a run of their own, getting it back to a nine point lead.

"They became the aggressor and started driving more," Oregon Coach Ernie Kent told OSN. "They took it to us in the second half."

At this point, the sun Devils started getting a number of calls which made it tough for Oregon to get any momentum back. The first was an offensive foul on Luke Ridnour with 7:27 left. He drove down the left side, and created contact with the Sun Devil player which many believed would be a foul on ASU but the official turned and called it against Ridnour.

The second questionable call that was made caused the officials to argue amongst themselves. Ridnour drove right at the free throw line when another ASU player jumped in front of him, clearly moving. The first official to the scene called a charge on Ridnour but another referee ran in to discuss it with the first one. The officials started a heated discussion with each other but the first one prevailed, getting the charge called on Ridnour. Within two minutes, two huge fouls were called on Oregon's floor general, hampering the Ducks on both ends of the floor.

After these two calls and other inconsistent officiating, the Ducks found themselves down seven with 4:21 left. It looked like Oregon might have one more shot at it, but the Sun Devils were too tough and pulled it out in the end.

The Ducks struggled defensively in the second half. They occasionally went to a zone but when they did that, ASU players would pump fake from outside and a Duck would go flying at them, defeating the purpose of the zone.

Oregon did get a great defensive effort out of Brian Helquist however. Helquist was all over the floor playing great defense and providing hustle plays that the Ducks desperately needed. Jay Anderson also made some solid defensive plays in stretches in the second half.

Curtis Millage led the Sun Devils with a game-high 27 points in the game. Senior forward Tommy Smith also had an impressive night with 24. Ike Diogu added 17 points and Shawn Redhage had 12.

The Ducks wound up with only two players in double figures and both of them were there in the first half. Ridnour and Jackson wound up with 26 and 20 points respectively. 20 of Ridnour's points were in the first half, while 12 of Jackson's 20 were in the opening period.

Next up for Oregon will be the No. 1 Arizona Wildcats. Arizona beat Arizona State's next opponent, Oregon State, tonight in Tucson. The Ducks and Wildcats will tip-off at 1:00 on CBS in a key game for NCAA Tournament positioning.

"We just need to regroup and go play Arizona," Kent said.

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