LAS VEGAS — With nothing to lose but a game, the ASU men's basketball team traveled to the Pac-12 Tournament hoping to play the spoiler and possibly sneak into the NCAA Tournament with a Cinderella run this week.
Thursday afternoon, ASU's carriage turned back into a pumpkin.
The Sun Devils (15-18) fell 80-57 to No. 5 Oregon Thursday afternoon, ending their season with a whimper.
ASU hoped to carry some momentum from Wednesday's overtime win over Stanford into its matchup with the Ducks, and it did just that early in the game. Three-pointers from senior guard Torian Graham and junior guard Kodi Justice, in addition to active defense kept the undersized and under-seeded Sun Devils in the game for a topsy turvy first half which featured 17 lead changes.
The final change came on a three-pointer by Oregon junior forward Dillon Brooks, giving the top-seeded Ducks a 34-31 lead at halftime, with promise for more tightly contested basketball in the final 20 minutes.
Brooks, the recently-named Pac-12 Player of the Year, scored 11 points in the first half, pacing Oregon and frustrating ASU.
"He competes, goes after the ball hard, rebounding, scoring," ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. "I think that was a silent killer for us in the first half, was losing him a couple times in transition and allowing him to make a couple threes."
Then, the clock struck midnight on ASU.
The Ducks took control of the game with an 8-2 run out of the locker room, then held the Sun Devils without a field goal for the next 7:41 of game action, effectively ending the game before the midway mark of the second half.
"We hit a wall in terms of just fatigue or the wear from yesterday's game," Hurley said. "But (we) just didn't have quite the same pop in the second half, and our defense didn't help."
Brooks scored another 11 and helped Oregon shoot a blistering 57 percent from the field in the second half to pull away late, making the game look more lopsided than it initially seemed.
But even as the ship was going down around him, Graham kept shooting — and scoring. In his final collegiate game, Graham poured in 32 points — 16 in each half — on 12-of-25 shooting to keep the game from getting too far out of hand.
"Once you give a shooter two really good looks like that, they can get it going," Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. "And Graham, he's a phenomenal scorer .... So just a very good scorer and someone who gave us fits."
The loss ends what was an up and down season for ASU in Hurley's second season at the helm, but the coach is confident with where his program is now and where it's heading.
"I'm excited that we took a step in the program," Hurley said. "The seniors are a big part of that. (Junior guards) Tra Holder, Shannon Evans, Kodi (Justice) also, to get us a win in the Pac-12 Tournament, to get that win yesterday is nice, and we're going to keep building off of that in the future."
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