A Final Four team last season, Oregon isn’t likely to make the NCAA tournament barring a major run here in the final games before Selection Sunday. Such a late push needed a start, and the Ducks got that Thursday in beating Arizona State 77-68 at home.
A strong first half was followed by a sluggish final 20 minutes, though the Ducks (18-10, 8-7 Pac-12) did what they needed to in order to come out on top. There’s still much work to do before Oregon can really think about the NCAA tourney, starting with Saturday’s visit from conference leader Arizona, but for now here’s what we learned about this barely-on-the-bubble squad:
Prowess in the paint
Oregon doesn’t start a player over 6-foot-8, with 6-foot-9 Kenny Wooten its tallest regular contributor. So how did the Ducks outrebound Arizona State 40-32 and dominate points in the paint by a 36-14 edge? By fighting hard close to the basket, both offensively and defensively.
Though only 22 of 47 on two-pointers, Oregon pulled down 12 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points. ASU only had 5 offensive boards and 9 points on putbacks.
Ball care breeds results
Oregon turned it over just 7 times, a season low, with no player giving it away more than twice. In getting swept by the Los Angeles schools last week the Ducks had 36 total turnovers.
And only three of those turnovers were on bad passes or similar plays, the other four coming because of offensive fouls.
Sophomore guard Payton Pritchard had been particularly careful with the ball of late, his assist-to-turnover ratio up to 3.5-to-1 in Pac-12 play.
Better body control
Those four charges notwithstanding, the 20 fouls Oregon was charged with didn’t result in the kind of distinct free throw disadvantage it has seen many times this season. Arizona State was 16 of 18 from the foul line but only attempted 9 free throws in the second half as the Ducks committed just 9 fouls after halftime.
The Ducks were 18 of 23 from the line, only the 11 th time in 28 games they were out-attempted. They are 11-0 when taking more foul shots than their opponents.
The post Staying alive? What we learned from Oregon’s 77-68 win over Arizona State appeared first on Diehards.