Arizona State Basketball: Road Struggles Continue in PAC-12 Play in Oregon

Week in Review

The Sun Devils were on the road this past week traveling to take on Oregon and Oregon State. ASU had a chance to get above .500 in conference play, but unfortunately, the Sun Devils dropped both games by close margins. The same struggles that have plagued ASU in PAC-12 play continued this week. Turnovers, second chance points, and at times stagnant offensive possessions all contributed to ASU losing both games this week. Arizona State is now 19-9 on the season and 7-9 in PAC-12 play.

Game Recap vs. Oregon

This past Thursday against Oregon, Tra Holder was held scoreless and Arizona State lost 75-68. Arizona State was held to a shooting clip of 38.6% while the Ducks shot 41.3%. One of the main reasons Arizona State lost this game was interior offense and defense. Oregon not only controlled the paint but dominated it the entire game. Kenny Wooten, a former Sun Devil commit, controlled the paint on defense and had 4 key blocks down the stretch. In addition, ASU’s Romello White was held scoreless while De’Quon Lake only scored 6 points off the bench. The Sun Devils also gave up 12 offensive rebounds which contributed to Oregon getting second and third opportunities to score.

While being dominated in the paint on both ends of the floor, ASU still had an opportunity down the stretch to win this game, but key turnovers and rushed shots combined with Oregon’s defensive presence ultimately led to Oregon pulling away. Oregon did a good job guarding Sun Devil guard Tra Holder, who was held to 0 points on 0-6 shooting in one of his worst performances of this career. ASU’s poor shooting coupled with Oregon’s interior presence was just too much for Bobby Hurley’s squad to overcome.

Different Team, Same Story vs. Oregon State

On Saturday, ASU headed to Corvallis to take on the Beavers of Oregon State. Continued late game struggles and poor rebounding on the glass led to Oregon State upsetting the Sun Devils 79-75. ASU seemed in control early in the game, jumping out to a 10-2 lead but ended up getting outscored 20-34 over the last 15 minutes of the first half. At times ASU seemed a step slower than the Beavers and seemed to play lethargic during key stretches in the game.Arizona State also turned over the ball 16 times which led to easy transition buckets for the Beavers.

During the second half, ASU was down by as many as 15 points but clawed back into the game with about 2 minutes left. Poor rebounding and a foul by Romello White with the score tied with less than a minute to go allowed the Beavers to ice the game with two late free throws putting the game out of reach.

Unlike the game against Oregon, Tra Holder looked like his old self, scoring 23 points on 7-15 shooting including 3-6 from deep. While Tra played good, Shannon Evans played poorly and ended up shooting an abysmal 2-10 from the field while committing 4 turnovers in one of his worst performances of the season. Arizona State’s big men played decently, but they still struggled with protecting the paint and rebounding allowing Oregon State to shoot 52.8% from the field.

What’s Next

Arizona State comes back to Tempe and closes out PAC-12 conference play with home games against Stanford and Cal. ASU should win both of these games, but if they allow the opposing team numerous second-chance opportunities like they did against the Oregon schools, then ASU could find themselves in trouble once again.

Stanford will be the tougher of the two matchups as the Sun Devils lost to Stanford in Palo Alto in January 77-86. Travis Reid is their biggest threat in the paint, but senior center Michael Humphrey might be the difference maker in the game. ASU has struggled against two big men on the court at the same time (DeAndre Ayton and Dusan Ristic), and Reid and Humphrey just need to stay out of foul trouble to make it a tight game.

If Arizona State wants to have a legitimate shot at winning the PAC-12 tournament as well as making a run in the NCAA Tournament, then the Sun Devils have to get back to doing what they do best, which is playing fast, pushing the ball and being active on defense. Arizona State looked like a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament after the UCLA and USC wins, but a loss or two at home this weekend would put them in a scary situation.


Photo from ASU Basketball Twitter Account

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