Entering Saturday night’s game in Tempe, Oregon found itself on a hot streak, winning its past two games. The Ducks played their most complete game of the season a week ago in the victory against USC before dispatching Arizona in Tucson on Thursday.
The victories happened because the Ducks played together.
On defense, they not only did a great job of pressuring the ball-handlers and shooters, they played as if connected on a string. Offensively, Oregon played unselfishly, consistently moving the ball to find the open man and take advantages of mismatches.
That recipe for success was going well for most on the game against Arizona State, as the Ducks found themselves leading 54-50 with 8:37 to go following a Louis King three-pointer.
But then the wheels fell off. Everything Oregon had done to be successful up that point stopped happening.
The Ducks allowed Arizona State to go on a 19-0 run over the next 4:26, eventually falling 78-64 on the road.
Payton Pritchard led Oregon (11-7, 2-3 Pac-12) with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists in one of his better games of the season. King finished with 16 points and four rebounds while Paul White added 12 points and four rebounds.
As a team, the Ducks struggled from the floor, shooting below 35-percent from both the field and beyond the arc.
Arizona State (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) finished with five players in double-figures, led by Zylan Cheatham’s 17 points and nine rebounds. Taeshon Cherry and Kimani Lawrence added 25 points off the bench as the Sun Devils outscored the Ducks 25-12 off the bench.
The game was much more emotional and eventful than expected, as numerous hard fouls and a technical were called in the first half. Multiple times did the players have to be separated as taunting and jawing was very common.
After the Ducks took an early 6-5 lead following a Pritchard three-pointer, Arizona State took the lead on the next possession and didn’t give it back until a pair of White free throws gave the Ducks a 21-20 lead.
Arizona State appeared to be going into the break with the lead before Pritchard got going. After knocking down a pair of free throws, he banked in a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Ducks into the break tied at 39.
Oregon came out playing well in the second half as King finished with eight of the Ducks’ first 15 points. But his final three-pointer set the stage for the collapse.
Victor Bailey Jr., who entered the game averaging 10 points on 41.3-percent shooting from three-point territory, had his worst performance of the season. He finished with zero points on 0-for-9 shooting, including 0-for-4 from deep.
The Ducks return home to face first-place Washington (14-4, 5-0 Pac-12) on Thursday, January 24. Game time is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.