Coach Bobby Hurley and guard Kodi Justice discuss Thursday’s season-ending loss to Oregon in Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
LAS VEGAS – Even after a seesaw first half against No. 5-ranked Oregon on Thursday that ended with the Arizona State basketball team down by three, the Sun Devils knew the wall of fatigue was coming in the Pac-12 Tournament.
ASU’s starters all played 34 to 43 minutes to earn an overtime win against Stanford on Wednesday in the first round. Keeping up with fresh Oregon, which had a bye in the first round as the Pac-12 Tournament top seed, in the second half of the quarterfinal matchup in a back-to-back was going to be difficult, at best.
ASU made just one field goal in the first 8-plus minutes, falling behind by 16 points after a first half with 15 lead changes and three ties. Fatigue wasn’t an issue, players said later, but that’s not what showed at T-Mobile Arena as shots were short and defense against the attacking Ducks cracked in an 80-57 season-ending loss.
“First half, I thought we started out fairly well,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said. “Then, we just hit a wall in terms of just fatigue or wear. We just didn’t have quite the same pop in the second half, and our defense didn’t help.”
Just five days earlier, trailing No. 7 Arizona by one at half, the Sun Devils were outscored 10-0 at the outset of the second half and never fully regrouped, losing 73-60 in their only game of that week.
BOX SCORE: Oregon 80, ASU 57
The second half against Oregon went even worse Thursday.
Oregon (28-4) had mixed success with its inside game in the first half, leading 34-31, but pounded the Sun Devils in the second to ensure the game would not go like it did Feb. 2 in Eugene when the Ducks held on to win 71-70.
Dillon Brooks, Pac-12 Player of the Year, scored 22 and Tyler Dorsey added 21 for Oregon, who led 48-29 in rebounding and 42-18 in paint points.
“I feel like we had to get our feet wet,” Brooks said. “Get used to the rims, and once the second half started going, we started rolling.”
Guards Dylan Ennis and Dorsey combined for 21 rebounds, 14 more than they pulled in the first game against ASU.
“When we are rebounding like that, it’s great for the team to push it to start transition a little faster,” Dorsey said.
ASU senior guard Torian Graham had 16 first-half points and 32 overall, but none of his teammates scored in double figures, a first this season.
“We gave Graham two wide-open 3s to get rhythm,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Once you give a shooter two really good looks like that, they can get it going. He’s someone who gave us fits.”
It took a Graham run to give ASU any second-half life. He scored 14 points over 4 minutes, including a spectacular dunk and four-point play, cutting the deficit to 60-52 with 7:16 left. Oregon answered with layups by Brooks and Dorsey and two Brooks free throws, draining whatever fight remained from ASU.
“We attacked them better in our first game,” said Hurley, on what was the first game of a road weekend. “We got by them a little bit easier. Some of that could be a physical toll, just not having the gear you need to go by your man off the dribble and create a play.
“At times, we didn’t kick the ball out on drives, so we struggled. We just got into a bad place on offense, and they switched a lot. We couldn’t make them pay for it unfortunately.”
ASU senior forward Obinna Oleka had six points, after scoring 27 on Wednesday, and 11 rebounds in his final college game. Junior guard Kodi Justice, who played with a hip pointer suffered against Stanford, was just 2 of 13 shooting.
“I can’t really say fatigue was a factor,” Justice said. “There were times where you could see we might be tired here or there, but it wasn’t a big issue for me.”
ASU still won a Pac-12 Tournament game for the first time since 2013 to reach 15 wins for the second straight season under Hurley.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
Friday: Semifinals, Oregon vs. California, 7 p.m. on Pac-12 Network and TBD vs. TBD, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
Saturday: Championship, 9 p.m., ESPN