After what started as a mauling in the woods of Oregon, finished as an ultra-competitive basketball game. ASU trailed 15-0 before anyone knew what had happened and that was unfortunately the tempo of the game.
Falling by a slim margin of 85-78, it could have been much worse for the Sun Devils. In fact, had they not added a flurry of threes in scrap time at the game’s conclusion, it would have assuredly been a double-digit loss. The Sun Devils have now lost four straight road games, with just one remaining to try to end that streak.
It is quite easy to forget that at one point, the Oregon Ducks were 13-0 and ranked as the #10 team in the nation. From there, they went on a cold stretch that saw them go 2-8, before entering their current hot streak that has seen them win six in a row. The Ducks are no easy opponent, especially at home.
Oregon, a team known for their stellar offense, put it on display this evening. The blinding speed of Jonathan Loyd and Dominic Artis had the Devils on their heels, playing at a tempo the team was clearly not comfortable with; regardless of the individual speed of super sophomore Jahii Carson.
ASU senior Center Jordan Bachynski produced his usual double-double (ho-hum), but he had his hands full with Waverly Austin, who abused Bachynski in more ways than one. This opened the door for Mike Moser to be covered by whomever was playing the 4-spot. Jon Gilling drew the unlucky card of being the one to attempt to match up with the senior from Portland, Oregon. Twenty-two points and 17 rebounds later, there was no question who the most impactful player of the game was.
Far too often did the Ducks have open looks at the basket from not only deep, but point-blank range. The defense was not horrible, but when shooting only 38% on the offensive end, it puts an unwanted onus on the defensive side of the court where they were clearly overmatched.
Not scoring one point in transition on the night may be the most telling stat of all. When struggling on offense, getting an easy lay-up on the other end off of a defensive play is a way to swing the momentum. ASU fought valiantly to keep this a game throughout, but never having the lead at any point in the game is a tough hurdle to overcome.
The game’s leading scorer was also the most recent addition to next June’s NBA Draft. Jahii Carson went for an impressive 28 points against a team that claimed he could be guarded by “anyone” and that Jordan Bachynski was the real issue. No doubt were their words bulletin board material for the highly emotional, yet highly skilled, Carson.
After coming off one of his best performances as a Sun Devil, the “Danish Dandy” suffered from the always painful “regression to the mean.” Last game, he started out going 6-for-6; tonight, he was a rather woeful 1-for-7. Gilling also got into a minor scuffle with Oregon point guard Jonathan Loyd after the two got tangled up at midcourt, which caused the home crowd to be sent into a frenzy and all of their attention turned to Gilling.
When checking the bubble of teams under consideration for the NCAA Tournament, to even group the Sun Devils in that category would be an insult. Their RPI (and BPI, for that matter) far surpasses the pack, plus, a win over the #3 squad in the nation solidifies their national prominence.
Barring a major letdown Saturday afternoon in Corvallis, the Devils will find themselves with a first-round bye in the PAC-12 Tournament and locked into the #3 seed.
Just one regular season game remains on the 2013-14 schedule for this year’s group before the games start taking on enormous consequences. Saturday afternoon at 2:30, the Sun Devils will lock horns with the Beavers of Oregon State (15-13, 7-9) and their dynamic scorer, Roberto Nelson. The Beavers have an opportunity to build a large sum of momentum against the Arizona Wildcats tonight, so one can hope that they place all their eggs in that proverbial basket and ignore the test coming in on Saturday.