Las Vegas, NV. – In a very exciting game, Oregon battled back from a nine-point second half deficit to force overtime and ultimately top the No. 2-seed Arizona State Sun Devils 79-75 in the second Pac-12 Tournament semifinal. Louis King led the Ducks with 19 points while Payton Pritchard added 18 points along with eight assists and only one turnover. It was Oregon’s (22-11) seventh straight win.
The Ducks got out to a strong start, scoring the first seven points of the game. They led by as many as 12 points before the Sun Devils cut the lead to 28-24 on a three-pointer by Kimani Lawrence. Oregon maintained their lead helped by two three-pointers from Pritchard, one three-pointer from Louis King and a steal and lay-in from Ehab Amin. Oregon took a 35-28 lead into the break. Oregon committed only three turnovers in the half while forcing seven from the Sun Devils. The Ducks shot an efficient 44 percent from the field and connected on 5-of-11 3s. Arizona State stayed close thanks to 4-of-6 shooting from deep with Luguentz Dort making his two attempts from distance.
Arizona State came out of halftime and turned the game around, showing the energy the Ducks lacked. Oregon missed 12 of their first 13 shots while the Sun Devils took advantage in an 18-3 run to start the half. It was hard to tell if Oregon hit a wall, playing the final half of three games in three days but that’s what it looked like. Arizona State was ahead 49-40 when the Ducks showed renewed energy and started their comeback. King took the game into his hands and scored eleven straight Oregon points in reducing Arizona State’s lead to 51-48. A Will Richardson layup cut the lead to one but then the Sun Devils extended their led back to seven, leading 64-57 with 4:34 left. Pritchard followed with two layups after penetration. Paul White connected a a key three-pointer to get Oregon to within one, than after a Lawrence basket Amin drained a three-pointer from the corner to tie the game up at 67. Oregon had a chance to take the lead on another drive and lay-in from Pritchard but the attempt rolled out. After that Sun Devil shots from Remy Martin and Rob Edwards missed and the teams went to overtime.
In overtime Arizona State missed Zylan Cheatham who fouled out with 3:57 remaining. They took the lead on a Kenny Wooten dunk off a feed from Pritchard then took control making four straight free throws and forcing two turnovers, the last a steal by King that resulted in a lay-in by Amin that gave Oregon a 75-68 lead. Arizona State wasn’t done as King fouled Edwards on a three-pointer. Edwards’ three foul shots cut the Ducks’ lead to 78-75. After Oregon missed two shots the Sun Devils had a chance to tie it but a Dort three-pointer didn’t connect. King was fouled and made one foul shot to ice the win.
Playing their third game in three nights Oregon showed persistence in getting through this game. Most thought they were done when Arizona State was up by nine points but the Ducks refocused and made it through this game. The difference in the game was, once again, the Ducks’ defense. They forced 14 Sun Devil turnovers while committing only eight and had a 25-10 advantage in points after turnovers. Oregon won the game despite leaving points at the foul line where they were 13-of-24 (54 percent). Arizona State was 23-of-31 (74 percent) on foul shots.
Oregon wouldn’t have won this game without the contributions from seniors Amin and White. Amin brought urgency on defense and made two key three-pointers and the lay-up that gave them a seven-point lead in overtime. He had 13 points, six rebounds and three steals in only 18 minutes. White scored 14 points, hitting four three-pointers, several of which were important. He added seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Oregon came into the game holding six consecutive opponents to less than 62 points. The last time they did that was 37 years ago, three years before the shot clock was instituted. They held three of those opponents to their lowest scoring total of the season. That streak ended tonight but Oregon still advances to the Pac-12 championship game for the fifth time in the last seven years. They will be going for their fifth Pac-12 Tournament title.
In the first game the No. 1-seeded Washington Huskies (26-7) overcame a poor start to get past Colorado 66-61. Jaylen Nowell and Nahziah Carter each scored 14 points to lead the winners. Tyler Bey did his best to keep the Buffaloes (21-12) in the game, finishing with 22 points and 16 rebounds.
Colorado scored the first eight points of the game but the Huskies battled back quickly. They took the lead at 19-18 on a dunk by Matisse Thybulle. Colorado broke at 21-all tie by scoring seven straight points and took a 33-27 lead into halftime. A three-pointer by Thybulle (12 points) early in the send half tied the score at 33 and started a 13-2 Washington run that gave them a 43-35 lead. The Huskies extended the lead to 14 points. Some poor Washington free throw shooting near the end of the game and solid play from Bey reduced the final margin to five points.
The Buffaloes shot a poor 6-of-30 (20 percent) in the second half which doomed their chances. The Huskies picked up their offense in the half shooting 48 percent from the field and getting ten points from Nowell. Colorado out-rebounded Washington 44-27 and pulled down 18 offensive rebounds but couldn’t take advantage of the extra opportunities.