2017 Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament: Top-seeded Oregon flexes muscle in win over Arizona State
LAS VEGAS – Oregon basketball fans might have been a bit nervous at halftime of Thursday’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal against Arizona State. The Ducks might have entered the tourney as the top seed, but the eighth-seeded Sun Devils hung tough for the first period.
But then came the second half. And the Ducks. And their high-flying ways.
Despite leading by just three points at the break, Oregon rolled to an 80-57 win over ASU to reach its third straight Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.
“I think we did a good job,” Oregon guard Dylan Ennis said. “We understand that these rankings don’t mean anything. We have to come out every day and play like it’s our last game.”
Employing a starting lineup with four guards, ASU coach Bobby Hurley has found success with his unorthodox team. On Thursday, it was senior Torian Graham who caught fire early, hitting four trifectas before intermission. He might have kept it going into the second half, finishing with 32 points and seven made 3-pointers, but the rest of the Devils ran out of steam.
Twenty-four hours after gutting out a 98-88 overtime win against Stanford, ASU appeared to lose its legs in the second half. While Hurley technically has a seven-man rotation, the lion’s share of the playing time goes to the starting five, who scored 96 of the team’s 98 points on Wednesday.
“They’ve sacrificed so much. These guys have been unbelievable,” Hurley said of his starting quintet. “It’s hard when it ends, it doesn’t feel good. I’m excited that we took a step in the program.”
Oregon took control of the contest early in the second half, going on a 12-2 run in the first five-plus minutes. From there, the Ducks went on cruise control, putting together a vintage performance full of dunks, blocked shots and trey balls.
No, YOU try stopping @dbrookz8.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 9, 2017
Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks scored a team-high 22 points, draining 3-of-6 3-pointers while grabbing seven rebounds. Guard Tyler Dorsey added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Ducks, who will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between No. 4 seed Utah and No. 5 seed Cal.
As the No. 7 team in the Associated Press top 25 poll and a legit Final Four contender, the Ducks are hoping this is just the start of a special March Madness run.
“We know we can play anywhere from two more games to eight or nine, whatever it is,” guard Casey Benson said. “So knowing that we want to play as long as we can and just continue to have fun with it. We love playing with one another. We’ve got a really tight-knit group, so just continue to keep it rolling.”