What does ASU men's basketball need to fix to win in the NCAA tournament?

Decision making, turnovers and fouling need to be polished in order for the Devils to advance

The ASU men's basketball team was left to face many issues to fix after its 79-75 overtime loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament.

The team barely got into the NCAA tournament, as the Sun Devils were selected into a First Four game versus St. John's as a No. 11 seed.

If the team wants to advance, they must resolve certain season-long problems that reared their ugly heads during their matchup against the Ducks.

First, despite having a team-high 16 points, freshman guard Luguentz Dort's performance and decisions, especially in the later parts of the second half and overtime, cost the team precious momentum.

Dort's tendency of tunnel vision when driving appeared throughout the game as he placed himself in tough situations. 

Here, Dort picks up his dribble roughly 13 feet away from the basket with two people on him, with a third ready to help. The other weak-side defender already sees Dort losing his balance, allowing for an easy rotation to read and make. 

This puts freshman forward Taeshon Cherry in a tough situation, and he turns the ball over after the rotating defender pressures him into a bad pass.


Source: YouTubeTV - ESPN

Dort's potential game-tying shot with about 16 seconds left had many people scratching their heads. With that much time left, many thought the Sun Devils could have worked for a better shot.

Those claims can certainly be justified. While Dort's man goes under the screen, he is five feet behind the three-point line. Oregon is daring Dort to shoot this, willing to take their chances with Dort shooting from that far.

At this juncture, Dort was two-of-four from behind the arc, while other players such as redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards and sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence were three-of-five and one-of-two from three-point land, respectively.


Source: YouTubeTV - ESPN

One of Dort's four turnovers was possibly the most costly of the entire game. There are multiple ways Dort and the team could have prevented it, which played a part of a defining 7-0 Ducks run in overtime.

Here, Dort had multiple chances to make a pass to sophomore guard Remy Martin

With that said, Dort is not the only person to blame. The spacing on this press break is not ideal, as four players are on the left side of the court. If Lawrence had moved to the opposite corner, bringing his defender with him, this lob pass made by Dort would have likely been completed. 

It's up for debate as to whether that is Lawrence's fault for not spacing the floor properly or head coach Bobby Hurley's fault for poor set design.


Source: YouTubeTV - ESPN

The Sun Devils had trouble breaking the press the entire time the Ducks used it, committing seven of their 14 turnovers in the second half and overtime. 

In this instance, Edwards simply can't get the ball into play and turns it over.

The other two players did not make their way to the half-court line for a safety pass, as a possible way to relieve the pressure. Edwards could have only thrown this pass thinking it was the best choice at that point.


Source: YouTubeTV - ESPN

Coach Hurley echoed the same sentiment of his team being careless with the ball late in the game.

"We were a little bit careless with the ball in overtime, and that's kind of what we were doing earlier in the game," Hurley said. "So, we reverted back to that when we didn't really need to turn it over."

Foul trouble played a large factor in ASU's demise, giving Oregon 22 free throws in the second half and overtime. 

While fouls have mostly come off of defensive breakdowns for the Sun Devils this year, the fouls came a different way for the team this game: off of offensive rebounds.

Oregon grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, often placing players in unfavorable situations close to the basket.

Here, the shot was well defended by Edwards, but he doesn't box out his man. He subsequently gives up an offensive rebound, and Dort commits a blocking foul on the put-back attempt. 


Source: YouTubeTV - ESPN

Issues up and down the board need to be fixed by the team as a whole if they hope to advance even one or two games in the NCAA tournament.


Reach the reporter at jhorst2@asu.edu and follow @HorseySeven on Twitter.

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