ASU men's basketball falls just short in crushing overtime loss to Oregon

The Sun Devils' postseason fate is now in limbo after losing to Oregon in Pac-12 semifinals

Freshman guard Luguentz Dort sat alone in a corner of the ASU locker room following the Sun Devils' 79-75 overtime loss to the Oregon Ducks on Friday.

Cloaked by a grayish-black jacket with the hood pulled so far forward it almost covered his eyes, Dort gazed straight ahead with a blank expression on his face, glancing down periodically at the flashing lights of his phone before returning to his thousand-yard stare. 

A number of things could've been running through his mind, from his missed three with 17 seconds left in overtime to the myriad of foul calls that many on the team would call questionable.

One thing is for sure though, and that was the feeling of anger and resentment that permeated throughout the locker room on Friday night as the Sun Devils left Las Vegas with unfinished business.

“100 percent I feel like this game was stolen from us,” redshirt senior forward Zylan Cheatham said following the defeat. “In my opinion, I feel like that’s why everyone is so devastated.”

The Sun Devils got off to a poor start as they quickly fell behind 11-3 a little over five minutes into the contest, all while losing sophomore guard Remy Martin to injury in the game’s first 90 seconds.

But after two Dort threes cut the Ducks' lead to six, the Sun Devil confidence had returned, as had Martin. 

Despite Martin’s grimaces on the bench and hobbled walk back to the locker room early in the first half, the Pac-12 Second Team selection returned with a vengeance midway through the half, playing the game with his usual frenetic passion as he helped cut the deficit down to 35-28 heading into halftime. 

“He gutted it out because he’s a warrior,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “He was probably 60 to 75 percent of what Remy Martin would normally be.” 

ASU started the second half in stark contrast to the first, as the Sun Devils came out firing to the tune of an 11-3 run in the period’s first four minutes. 

After a Martin three-pointer gave the Sun Devils their first lead of the night, Oregon coach Dana Altman called a timeout with hopes of quelling the ASU offense. 

Yet, ASU’s hot shooting prevailed, stretching the run to 21-5 over the half’s first seven minutes as the Sun Devils took a commanding 49-40 lead. 

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Cheatham said. “We just tried to stay with it, tried to keep making plays and not get down on ourselves.” 

What eventually followed was a physical, hard-fought final 12 minutes as Oregon clawed its way back into the contest thanks to a number of timely buckets and key defensive possessions. 

While ASU never trailed the Ducks past the 16:22 mark of the period, an Ehab Amin three with 1:34 remaining tied the score at 67. 

The two teams traded missed shots in the game’s final 90 seconds, including a fadeaway three-point attempt by redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards as time expired. The game headed to overtime with a shot at the Pac-12 title on the line. 

In overtime, ASU was simply never able to recover from the backbreaking 9-1 Oregon run to start the period. 

Despite the Sun Devils having a chance to tie the game on their final possession of the game, Oregon seemed in control for the entirety of the five minutes as it secured the victory. 

Much of that had to do with the departure of Cheatham, who was called for his fifth and final foul a little over a minute into overtime. 

“I think the main thing that went wrong in overtime, to be honest, was losing Zylan,” Hurley said. “He’s such a big part of us winning games, and it’s hard to overcome that on defense with everything he does to help us win games.” 

Now, ASU must play the waiting game as its postseason fate lies in the hands of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. 

Selection Sunday stress is nothing new for ASU, which suffered a similar fate last year before ultimately earning a trip to Dayton to play in the First Four. 

This year, there’s a greater sense that the Sun Devils have earned a bid, rather than just performing less poorly than the rest of the bubble. 

With ASU winning six of its last eight games, the belief certainly exists within the team that if it is sent to the Tournament, it could do some serious damage. 

“Any NCAA committee that really does their homework on us and looks at us as a whole, looks at our whole resume, should pretty much feel the same way as we do,” Cheatham said. “But you never know, we’ll see Sunday. We put in the effort, we did everything that we possibly could to make ourselves a tournament team, so I’m excited to see what’s next.”


Reach the reporter at Jrosenfa@asu.edu or follow @jacobrosenfarb on Twitter. 

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