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Oregon Men's Basketball Drops Pac-12 Opener to Arizona State in Overtime

Richardson and Harmon’s cold night leaves the Ducks floundering against Arizona State.

With starting senior forward Eric Williams Jr. not available tonight, the Ducks would be shorthanded against a struggling Arizona State squad coming off a 51-29 blowout against fellow Pac-12 opponent Washington State. The Ducks lost the game fell 69-67 in their Pac-12 opener.

First Half:

The Sun Devils would sprint out to a ten-point lead, leading the game 16-6 at one point, before the Ducks offense found any kind of life. The Ducks would go on a 16-5 run to take their first lead of the game at 22-21, thanks in large part to the efforts of junior’s Quincy Guerrier and De’Vion Harmon, who combined for 11 points over this stretch.

Arizona State would open the scoring almost a minute and a half after regulation had begun off of a DJ Horne jump shot, a statement Ducks fans and players would become all too familiar with as the night progressed.

From there the first half was a back-and-forth slug fest as teams traded baskets and the lead, before a Franck Kepnang free throw would give the Ducks the edge, 31-30.

While the Ducks would be happy to be up at half, they were sorely missing production from senior guard Will Richardson, whose first half shooting left a lot to be desired.

Second Half:

There’s an often repeated phrase in basketball circles when it comes to the best way to win games, and as simple as it is, it rang true tonight: Make. Your. Free. Throws.

The second half was in many ways a repeat of the first. Arizona State’s offense matched the Ducks' production, but the Sun Devils would get overzealous defensively, wracking up 11 personal fouls throughout the half. This gave Oregon the opportunity to run away with the game as they went to the line 12 times in the second half, but would struggle to convert these chances, knocking down only eight. 

Free throw struggles would be a compounding issue through the night, as the Ducks would finish 13-of-21 from the line, missing out on eight points the team desperately wants in retrospect.

Free throw shooting woes were not the only shooting woes that ailed the team when it mattered; the guard duo of senior Richardson, and Harmon would combine for an abysmal 5-of-26 from the field, and 2-of-14 from three-point range. In what’s becoming somewhat of a worrying trend, when Richardson is held to single digits this season, the Ducks are 1-4, with the lone win coming from the team's game against Chaminade in Las Vegas.

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The Sun Devils would pounce on this lack of scoring, clawing their way back to force overtime in a game many would have considered very winnable for Oregon.

Overtime:

With Oregon’s leading scorer out for the night, and the other three (Richardson, Young, Harmon) all having off nights, it fell on sophomore Franck Kepnang to carry the load in overtime. Kepnang would tally six points in five minutes on perfect shooting before the Sun Devils' defense and three-point-shooting would ice the game.

Starting slow isn’t a new trend with Altman teams. We’ve seen it time and time again where his teams take a while to truly settle in and work together properly, sometimes taking as long as the week before the Pac-12 Tournament to really gel.

While the optimist might say taking early season losses allows for teams to identify their weaknesses and grow out of them, the pessimist will comment how they can, and often will, sink tournament aspirations early on. 

It’s safe to say the Ducks have plenty of work to do before March Madness is even a passing thought in their mind.

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