Oregon dropped from first to fourth place in the Pac-12 Conference men's basketball race following Thursday’s 77-72 loss at Arizona State.
The 14th-ranked Ducks (20-7, 9-5) are now looking up at No. 24 Arizona (19-7, 9-4) in the standings heading into Saturday’s matchup at 6 p.m. at McKale Center.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight,” UO coach Dana Altman said during his postgame radio show on KUJZ-FM following the loss to ASU. “You are not going to go on the road and win without free-throw shooting and handling the ball. Those are two crucial things especially on the road.”
Oregon’s 16 turnovers matched its most in a Pac-12 game this season and led to 19 points for the Sun Devils. The Ducks made 12-of-19 free throws, nearly nine percentage points below their season average.
Oregon rallied from 11 points down in the final nine minutes to tie the game, but never took the lead.
“We shot 12-of-19 with two or three misses on the front end of a one-and-one,” Altman said. “We gave that game away. We worked hard to get back in it and get tied at 54-54 and Chris (Duarte) missed the front end of a one-and-one and Payton (Pritchard) missed a layup.
"We had two chances to go ahead and missed three or four shots at the rim late. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance. We had it right there. I am proud of the guys for fighting back, but once we got it there we were not tough enough at the free-throw line or handling the ball to finish.”
Arizona beat Oregon State 89-63 to move into a tie for second place in the conference with ASU, one-half game back of Colorado at 10-4. The Ducks are tied for fourth with UCLA while USC is one game back in sixth at 8-6. UCLA plays at Colorado on Saturday, and the two Los Angeles schools host the Arizona schools next week.
Oregon defeated Arizona 74-73 in overtime last month when the two teams traded the lead three times in the final minute and the Ducks made three defensive stops in the final 10 seconds.
Will Richardson led the Ducks with 21 points off the bench in that game, but has moved into the starting rotation. Freshman N’Faly Dante had his best performance as a Duck with 10 points and five rebounds, but has missed the past eight games due to a knee injury and is unlikely to play against the Wildcats.