Coming off a big win over the rival Huskies, the Ducks traveled to the desert to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils, looking for revenge for the 77-72 loss they suffered at the hands of the Sun Devils last year. The game featured plenty of fireworks, as ASU’s Remy Martin and Oregon’s own Chris Duarte are first and second in the Pac in scoring, respectively.
Oregon got off to hot start behind a few Chris Duarte Jr. buckets, who, alongside Eric Williams Jr., was a game-time decision coming into the contest. However injuries were prevalent early on, as Will Richardson appeared to injure the thumb he had surgery on while fighting for possession, and ASU’s Josh Christopher came down hard. Christopher was also a game-time decision for an injury to his leg. Both players returned to the game after a few minutes on the bench, which was good news for both teams.
When ASU tied the game at 19, the game suddenly shifted in style, as the two teams shifted from playing in the half-court to a fast-paced up and down the floor style. Unfortunately, this shift was accompanied by turnovers, ugly missed shots and an overall sloppy mess. But shining through that mess was none other than Oregon’s Chris Duarte. The guy some thought might not play was leading the charge for the Ducks, and looking good while doing it. He was 6-6 shooting with 16 points that gave Oregon a 30-19 advantage over the Sun Devils. The final few minutes of the half saw ASU climb back into the game behind the efforts of Remy Martin, who was starting to heat up after a slow start earlier on. Despite his efforts, Oregon found themselves up at the halftime 35-28.
A 5-0 start for Oregon forced ASU to take an early timeout, as the Ducks looked to maintain the control over the game they enjoyed for much of the first half. Oregon started hammering the Sun Devils in the post, as several consecutive baskets in the paint by Eugene Omoruyi and Will Richardson extended Oregon’s lead to 14. Remy Martin was single-handedly keeping ASU in the game, as he was outscoring the rest of the Sun Devils, but he needed someone else to help step up and shoulder the load.
As the half wore on, ASU’s struggles continued to get tougher, as talented freshman Josh Christopher was announced out for the rest of the game with a back injury he sustained early on in the first half. The Sun Devils were playing short-handed and Martin was their only scorer in double digits, while Oregon was playing with all their leading scorers for the first time all year.
The Devils started clawing their way back into the game, a 10-0 run cut the Ducks lead to single digits, as turnovers and sloppy defense was sabotaging Oregon’s lead. ASU had stolen the momentum, but it didn’t take the Ducks long to get their double-digit lead back. With two minutes left, Martin was still outscoring the rest of his team, 30-28. While an impressive feat, it was scary to imagine how lopsided the game would have been without the standout senior. While Arizona State deserves credit for being able to make the game interesting after previously being down by 17, the Devils were just too depleted to keep up with the Ducks. Oregon takes the game, 75-64.
After so much time off recently for the Ducks, it has been encouraging to see how well the offense has played in their last two games. They have a tough remaining schedule ahead of them with all the games they need to make up, but if Oregon continues this level of play now that the team is healthy (minus N’Faly Dante) they have a real shot at catching USC and UCLA at the top of the standings in the Pac-12.
With Richardson, Duarte, Figueroa and Omoruyi all scoring in double digits tonight, the Ducks could find themselves with a well-balanced offense that the rest of the Pac could have trouble slowing down. This was the first time they all took the court at the same time and if they continue to gel, the rest of the conference should watch out.