Oregon men’s basketball took care of the Arizona State Sun Devils last night at MKA with a strong second half showing to put ASU away, 80-61.
There was a stretch in the first half, however, where you could be forgiven for worrying about the Ducks’ offense.
Nate Bittle picked up his first start since injuring his wrist earlier in the season, and Ducks fans were treated to finally getting to see the big tandem of Bittle and N’Faly Dante on the floor. Also starting last night were Jackson Shelstad, Jermaine Couisnard, and Jadrian Tracey.
The Ducks jumped out early off a pair of 3-point shots from Couisnard and Bittle.
Then a stretch came between the 17:21 and 7:45 mark where Oregon went on a 1-13 FG run and could not find the bucket. And it wasn’t like the Ducks were just barely missing their shots - in addition to Oregon missing inside shots, Couisnard put up a couple of long balls from the right side that didn’t hit the rim at all; they sailed high, hit the backboard, and fell into the welcoming hands of the Sun Devils.
Meanwhile, ASU was finding little resistance in penetrating the paint during a 9-0 run that put them up 20-10.
The Ducks regained their composure and went on an 8-0 run, and were only down by five at the half, 28-33.
Oregon continued playing stronger in the second half, and seven minutes into the second half they found their shots - and their defense - and ran away with the game from there on out.
A highlight of this run was an emphatic dunk by N’Faly Dante, following with a shake-and-bake:
ASU tried to keep their energy up, but their posturing backfired in the face of the Oregon onslaught.
Keeshawn Barthelemy makes Jose Perez pay for the floor slap— Trevor Denton (@trevordenton37) January 26, 2024
He scored 12 points in tonight's 80-61 win. pic.twitter.com/KBt1kz5W5x
Especially in the 2nd half, Oregon looked as we might have expected once the healthy big tandem returned to the lineup.
The Sun Devils finished their night with 43.9% shooting (4-17 for 23.5% on 3s), and 64.6% at the line. Jose Perez was the sole scorer in double digits with 20 points.
The Ducks shot 50.9% from the field, and went 9-23 for 39.1% on the long ball. Oregon was on fire at the FT line, going 15-16 for 93.8%.
Jermaine Couisnard led the Ducks scorers with 19 points, with N’Faly Dante scoring 16 and Keeshawn Barthelemy adding 12.
Oregon finished ahead in rebounds, 35-27, and had an excellent showing off the bench, with 33 bench points to 18 for ASU.
Here is what head coach Dana Altman had to say after the game:
Followed by remarks from Keeshawn Barthelemy and N’Faly Dante:
Oregon men’s basketball (14-5, 6-2 Pac-12) for now has sole possession in the top of the Pac-12 standings. They might have been sharing a tie for #1 with Arizona had this not happened last night in Corvallis:
This sets up a monster matchup tomorrow at MKA against the Arizona Wildcats. AZ has not six straight in Eugene, and tomorrow the Ducks look to extend that win streak.