Herb Sendek came into the press conference after his team's victory against Oregon and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. In the first half, his team looked nearly unstoppable, shooting 68 percent from the field and leading the Ducks by 20 points.
In the second half, the Sun Devils made just six field goals, and saw a 21-point second half lead disappear. Clinging to a two-point lead with 4.9 seconds left, the biggest Sun Devil made the biggest play of the night. Jordan Bachynski swatted away Joseph Young's backdoor layup attempt as time expired, sealing Arizona State's 74-72 victory.
"I knew (with) the time and the score, that they were going to attack," said Bachynski. "I see a guy cut out of the corner of my eye and I knew I had to block that, we had to have this one."
His coach was able to find some humor when asked about the game plan defensively on the final play.
"I would just say that the game plan was not to have Joe (Young) go backdoor, almost get a layup, only to saved by Jordan," said Sendek.
The 7-foot-2 center posted a career-high 26 points, nine rebounds and nine blocks against the Ducks, shooting 7-8 from the field and 12-14 from the free throw line.
In the first half, Arizona State played as well as it has played in a half all season. The Sun Devils had nine assists on 15 made field goals, with Bachynski dominating inside to the tune of 18 points and five rebounds in the first half.
Conversely, Oregon shot just 25-percent from the field in the first half, including 1-13 from beyond the arc as the Sun Devils led 43-23 at the half.
"Our guys played well despite leaving a number of points at the free throw line," Sendek said about that first half. "Nothing is predictable in this game, our guys knew it wasn't over."
In the second half, the Ducks found themselves down by 21 points with just over 15 minutes left. The Ducks then went on a 21-5 run over the next five minutes to cut the Arizona State lead to four. Joseph Young scored all of his 29 points in the second half, shooting 11-17 in the final 20 minutes.
"It's a game of runs," said Sendek. "They had a great player who was absolutely in the zone. For anyone to assume that the reason why Oregon had such a great comeback is because we stopped trying would be utter nonsense. They played really well."
Oregon took a 61-59 lead on two free throws by Jonathan Lloyd with just over five minutes remaining, from then on the teams traded buckets until the final minute of the game.
After Arizona State had to burn two timeouts in a span of 11 seconds because of trouble getting the ball past halfcourt, Jermaine Marshall sank a tough shot in traffic to give the Sun Devils a 73-70 lead with 11 seconds left.
Instead of going for the tie, Oregon elected for the quick two points, which they got from two free throws made by Joseph Young. After Marshall hit just one of his free throws at the other end, Oregon got one final chance to tie the game up, when, as he did against Marquette, Bachynski rose to the occasion.
"We had a hard time scoring the second half for whatever reason, said Bachynski. "We found a way in the end."
The Sun Devils will likely have to shoot better than 3-15 from 3-point territory on Friday night, when they host the Arizona Wildcats.