Dana Altman noted the common denominator in Oregon’s three-game losing streak when Oregon State, USC and UCLA combined to shoot 60.1 percent from the field during the second half to pull away from the Ducks.
Oregon’s 34-26 halftime lead over Arizona State could have put it back in that danger zone if the Sun Devils followed the trend of recent opponents, but ASU never found its shooting stroke as the Ducks were able to enjoy a 79-51 win in front of 7,682 Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
“We’ve had some good defensive efforts in the first half, but that’s the best we’ve had in the second half,” Altman said. “We held them to 25 points in the second half and fouled too much, but other than that our energy and activity was good. Our communication was better.”
Arizona State missed its first eight shots to start the second half while committing three turnovers as the Ducks scored the first 12 points to take a 20-point lead that was never threatened the rest of the night.
“They did not score the first five minutes of the half and I did not think we gave them a lot of good looks,” Altman said. “They missed a couple free throws and open 3-pointers, but we challenged their shooters.”
Oregon was 18-for-34 from the field in the second half to outscore the Sun Devils 45-25.
Louis King led the Ducks with 19 points while Payton Pritchard added 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Freshman Francis Okoro had 10 rebounds to help the Ducks to a 44-26 edge on the boards.
Senior guard Ehab Amin came off the bench to add 11 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists as Oregon (16-12) moved into a tie for ninth place in the conference at 7-8.
“This is good momentum to start March,” Amin said.
For the second year in a row, the Ducks head into the final month of the regular season out of the mix for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament and thus seeking momentum for the Pac-12 Tournament. Arizona State (19-9) remains second in the conference at 10-6.
“The expectations this year and everyone talking about us being ranked and then dropping out, it has been up and down for all of us,” Amin said. “It has been hard, but today was a great example of how resilient this group is. We showed togetherness.”
The Ducks have not been able to string enough of those all-around performances together during a season that now has three games remaining in conference play.
“It is just one game, but I liked our intensity and loved our board play,” Altman said. “We beat a really good team by 18 on the boards. Their athleticism is as good as anyone in the league, so to do that was good.”
ASU scored six straight points to tie the game 16-16 before Pritchard scored five straight points to give Oregon a lead for the rest of the way. King converted a four-point play to put the Ducks up 30-22 before Okoro scored the final four points of the half.
Kenny Wooten opened the second half with back-to-back buckets before Pritchard added a 3-pointer. Amin had a pair of baskets and Okoro made a free throw as Oregon went up 46-26 before Luguentz Dort scored ASU’s first points of the second half with 14:08 left in the game.
“Coming out of the locker room at halftime, we had to keep that same energy and tempo as we had in the first half,” King said.