Starting guards Shannon Evans II and Tra Holder combined for 45 points, but the Arizona State Sun Devils came up just short against the No. 13 Oregon Ducks, losing 71-70 at the Matthew Knight Arena, in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday night.
The Ducks extended their home-game winning streak to 39, currently the second-longest streak in the country. Nonetheless, the Sun Devils (10-13, 3-7 Pac-12) — who have often struggled with slow starts — battled early and nearly upended the hosts, fighting back from several deficits.
Ultimately, ASU wasn’t able to contain Oregon forward Dillon Brooks (27 points) when it mattered, as he poured in 12 straight points for the Ducks during the closing minutes to help secure the result. The scoring surge from either side, however, didn’t occur until the second half.
Forward Jordan Bell, scored the Ducks’ first six points, and Holder (17 points) dropped a quick five for the Sun Devils, but following that, both offenses struggled to get going.
ASU turned the ball over just once in the opening frame, but finished the half shooting 31 percent from the field (including 4-for-14 from 3-point range). Meanwhile Oregon made 36 percent of its first-half shot attempts (1 of 10 of its 3-pointers).
The Sun Devils struggled through a stretch in which they made just one of 12 shots, including a scoring drought spanning three minutes during the first half too, as they had a tough time finishing inside against Ducks center Chris Boucher.
However, their struggles were mitigated by the Ducks’ inability to make shots, as Oregon went four minutes without making a field goal through the heart of the half.
This made way for ASU to go into the half leading 28-25 on the backs of Holder and Evans, who combined for 20 points entering the break.
The Ducks broke the ice out the intermission, connecting on seven of their first 12 shots to claim a 43-39 lead with under 15 minutes left. That lead grew to 49-41 before Evans (game-high 28 points) scored on a turnaround jumper then a transition 3-pointer to draw the Sun Devils within three with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Torian Graham — ASU’s leading scorer who was held scoreless in the first half — drilled a trey to give ASU a 51-50 advantage with seven minutes to go.
After that, the schools traded hold of the lead over the closing minutes.
Graham would make another triple to give the Sun Devils the inside track, 60-59, capping a 6-0 run with 3:15 remaining.
The Ducks would retake the lead on a 3-pointer by Brooks, but were answered by a trey from Evans to tie the game at 64 with two minutes left. After swapping free-throw tries, Brooks buried another 3-pointer, then a jumper on the next possession, lofting the Ducks ahead, 71-66, with 51 seconds left.
Oregon made 15 of its 29 field goal attempts in the second half while also hitting seven 3-pointers to effectively put the game out of reach.
The defeat sends ASU to its second straight loss.
The Sun Devils will travel to Corvallis, Ore., to take on the Oregon State Beavers at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4.