The scene was set for the Mac Court finale. Arizona State was up one, but Duck ball with a minute to go. Oregon calls timeout. They run a great inbound play, and get EJ Singler a wide open three pointer. Mac Court is ready to explode.
No problem. After ASU free throws, EJ gets another chance, and puts up another three.
Which was really just another example of what Oregon did all game. The Ducks had every opportunity to take this game and run away with it. Instead, they bricked it away.
The first half was brick city for both sides. Oregon didn't make its first shot until Singler hit a three pointer at the 13:50 mark. While the teams were playing well defensively, it was terrible shooting that marked the half, Oregon shooting 33% and ASU shooting 35%, and ASU took a four point lead into the half.
Oregon thretened to run away with the game, starting the second half on a 12-4 run, using turnovers and layins to get big points in a hurry. But a crazy three by Brandon Dunson at the shot clock buzzer kept Oregon from building a lead greater than five. At that point, Arizona State figured out that penetrating and kicking was better than standing around and shooting jumpers, and they hit the wide open shots with great regularity. And while the game remained nip and tuck the whole way, Oregon staying in it largely due to forcing turnovers and getting into the bonus early, the difference was that the Sun Devils dramatically improved their shooting in the second half, finishing at 45% for the game. The Ducks, after a terrible shooting first half, actually regressed further, finishing at 32%.
We've said over and over again that the system and defense was going to keep Oregon in games, and that they would have a great shot at pulling out some upsets. But the system can only keep them in games. They can't win them if they can't shoot. And they haven't shot at over a 35% clip in any game since the Jacksonville State game five games ago. Oregon is playing at a high level in many aspects of the game, but the shooting continues to shoot them in the foot.
Malcolm Armstead: Armstead joined in everyone else's shooting troubles, going 2-8 from the field for four points. But, unlike the Arizona game, the rest of his effort did not suffer from his shooting woes. He looked comfortable running the offense, had four assists to two turnovers, and played excellent defense having five steals while commiting only two fouls. His body language was also better in this game than it has been in a few weeks.
EJ Singler: EJ filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, 9 boards, and two blocks. He played a very good game defensively and made all nine of his free throws. But 5-13 from the field is not good, and the two crucial missed threes down the stretch killed any chance at an Oregon win. EJ does all the little things, and doesn't let shooting woes affect the rest of his game but, despite the point totals, he's not a significantly better offensive player than anyone else on the roster right now.
Jeremy Jacob: After being the one Duck to have a good game against Arizona offensively, JJ was a total failure this time out. 1-7 from the field. The face-up jump shot was not falling tonight.
Joevan Catron: 3-6 from the field, and had a couple of big and-ones. But he was a black hole tonight, and some of his six turnovers came at really critical times. Joevan has been very good this season, but he struggled with the zone and we saw a lot of old Joevan offensively in this one.
Garrett Sim: 1-6 shooting, 1-4 from three. Why did he play 20 minutes?
Teondre Wiliams: 3-4 shooting. 2-2 from three. He's been Oregon's most consistent offensive player over the last few games. As Matt Daddy was saying after the Arizona game, why on Earth did he only play 18 minutes? Especially when Sim plays 20? Teondre is playing well right now, and, unless something off court is going on that we don't know about, it boggles the mind why he's not starting and playing big minutes right now.
Oregon makes the road trip to the Washington schools, taking on the Huskies in Seattle on Thursday at 6:30 on Fox Sports Northwest.
Goodbye, Mac Court. May your memory always live on.