Those handful of tight nonconference games against ranked opponents appear to have served Oregon well.
The ninth-ranked Ducks found a way to defeat No. 24 Arizona 74-73 Thursday night in an overtime thriller at home, relying more on key defensive plays down the stretch than offense. It wasn’t the Ducks’ best offensive showing this season, but Oregon did enough to beat the Wildcats for a fourth straight time.
On Saturday comes Arizona State, fresh off a win at Oregon State on Thursday. Oregon (13-3 overall, 2-1 in Pac-12) faces another team against which it has had a lot of recent success.
Oregon has won 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Sun Devils, including a pair of conference tournament games. The Ducks haven’t lost to the Sun Devils at home since January 2011.
A blocked shot by Will Richardson and a steal by Payton Pritchard inside the final 10 seconds of overtime sealed Oregon’s win on Thursday.
“I’m not a terrible blocker, for a guard I’m pretty decent at blocking shots,” said Richardson, who scored a career-high 21 points with seven of the Ducks’ eight points in overtime.
The Ducks won despite committing 12 turnovers and making only 40 percent of their shots.
“You got to learn from wins and we’re not doing things very well. There’s so much more there,” coach Dana Altman told The Oregonian. “That’s the exciting thing. That’s what I told them in the locker room, ‘Fellas, I am really proud that you found a way to grind this out but you guys got to understand there’s so much more there and if you don’t put demands on yourself to get that, put demands on each other to get that, we won’t find out how good we can be.'”
The unranked Sun Devils (10-5, 1-1) got a needed confidence boost after having lost three of four before their 82-76 win in Corvallis, Ore., against the Beavers. Guard Remy Martin scored 24 points, and his matchup against Pritchard, the Ducks’ leading scorer, will be front and center Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.
Arizona State hopes guard Rob Edwards has ended his recent slump. Edwards, who has taken the second-highest number of 3-pointers on the team with 70, had scored just 10 points in the previous five games combined, going one of 18 from 3-point range in those games.
Thursday night, the senior made four of five and scored 18 points, all off the bench since he was taken out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.
“Obviously, I was struggling but that was on myself,” Edwards told the Arizona Republic. “I just had to find myself on the court. (Thursday) I felt like I did that, just making shots, doing what I do. talking on defense and being a threat on both sides of the ball.”
–Field Level Media