TEMPE - Coming out of halftime, the official Arizona State Basketball Twitter account posted a Tweet with a caption that foreshadowed a back-half collapse for the Sun Devils.
Only half that matters.— Sun Devil MBB (@SunDevilHoops) February 5, 2023
Second half is underway!
Only half that matters.
After taking a 30-27 halftime lead into the locker room, ASU (16-8, 7-6 Pac-12) lost Saturday’s home-matchup against Oregon (14-10, 8-5) 75-70. In the “only half that mattered,” the Sun Devils were outscored 48-40, and were awarded just 8 free-throws to Oregon’s 24.
Hot streaks of individual offensive performances carried the Sun Devils early. DJ Horne scored 9 points in the first half, controlled the floor and made the only two free-throws for ASU in the half. Luther Muhammad scored 8 first-half points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 2 three-pointers. Horne and Desmond Cambridge Jr. each led the team with a +/- of 6, though Cambridge Jr. did not score his first points until the second half.
Lights-out shooting (52.4%) was the recipe for victory in Eugene last month for ASU. When Oregon came to Tempe on Saturday, the Sun Devils could not sustain that same streakiness, shooting just 44.3%.
The first 10 minutes-or-so of the second half was all-Oregon, as the Ducks went on a 10-4 run to start the half, and they eventually took a double-digit lead. Arguably what plagued ASU the most was the foul count, as they gave Oregon its first bonus free-throws just over eight minutes into the half.
“That was a real battle of two teams that are pretty desperate to win,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “I think those first eight minutes of the second half cost us. They built a lead and we couldn’t overcome it and take the lead back even though guys out there were fighting like heck, scrambling and trying to make plays.”
The officiating was questionable, which had Hurley irate, which made the fans go wild, which, of course, helped the Sun Devils go on a few mini-runs. Horne made another 4 shots for a total of 18 points on the night. Frankie Collins scored 5 unanswered points. Cambridge Jr. eventually drained a pair of threes. But the hole they dug themselves into early in the half, and the countless free-throw opportunities for Oregon, were too much of a hindrance.
Somehow, the Sun Devils found themselves down by 3 points with the ball and just under 8 seconds-remaining in the game. Hurley called a timeout. The ball was inbounded to Cambridge Jr., who had enough of a cushion to pull the trigger on a three-ball. It wasn’t much of a designed play, but it was a good look from the corner.
The ball bounced off the side-iron and away. Ballgame.
What a fitting way for this one to be decided. pic.twitter.com/NQVOrKfWBy— House of Sparky (@HouseOfSparky) February 5, 2023
Oregon now jumps ASU in the Pac-12 standings, as the Sun Devils fall to No. 6 in the conference.