Verge Jr., Edwards lead ASU men's basketball to win over No. 14 Oregon

The two guards combined for 50 points in the upset victory

Junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. and redshirt senior guard Rob Edwards combined for 50 points as ASU men’s basketball upset No. 14 Oregon 77-72 Thursday night at Desert Financial Arena.

Verge Jr. led the way with a game-high 26 points along with three steals. Edwards notched a season-high 24 points for ASU including five 3-pointers.

ASU won its sixth straight contest and eighth out of its last nine, jumping to a tie for second place in the Pac-12 standings in the process.

“We have had a lot of adversity all year,” head coach Bobby Hurley said. “I am proud of how we have battled — starting out 1-3 to where we have come, it is an amazing run.”

ASU's defense was locked in from the start, as Oregon connected on just one of its first 10 shot attempts from the field, and three of its first 17.

ASU focused on double teams along the 3-point line, which resulted in Oregon missing eight of their first ten attempts from outside.

“In our first matchup versus Oregon, we let shooters get loose, and they hit too many threes in that game,” Hurley said. “Our activity was good (tonight), and we had a lot of deflections.”

The defense targeted Oregon senior guard Payton Pritchard, who came into the contest second in the Pac-12 in scoring with 19.5 points per game and first in assists with 5.8 per game.

Pritchard collected two early fouls, which sent him to the bench for a significant portion of the half and allowed ASU to focus on a guard-oriented offense.

It was a defensive battle on both sides early in the half, but the Sun Devils picked it up in the final stretch and ended the half on a 12-4 scoring run.

ASU also forced 11 Oregon turnovers in the half and held Oregon to 10-27 shooting from the field including just 2-11 from deep.

Edwards was a key component in ASU’s first-half offense, connecting on four out of 10 shots and two 3-pointers to finish the half with a team-high 11 points.

“We are locked in,” Edwards said. “We are just trying to get the job done and secure a win.”

Verge Jr. and junior guard Remy Martin also contributed nine points and six points respectively as ASU entered halftime with a strong 34-23 lead.

Oregon entered the second half with a different mindset offensively, making four of its first five shots from the field. Oregon read ASU’s perimeter defense and translated it with easier looks inside the paint.

The Sun Devils, however, maintained their pace on offense and held the lead thanks to patience with the clock and two 3-pointers by Edwards.

ASU kept the pressure on Pritchard, who assumed a backseat role in the early going and struggled to produce on a consistent basis.

“We knew that (Pritchard) was going to score,” Verge Jr. said. “We wanted to make it difficult for him. He can also create for others, so we just tried to stay in front of him.”

The Ducks remained within no more than a 12 point deficit thanks to second-chance opportunities and trips to the free-throw line, as the Sun Devils had trouble controlling the paint on defense.

The Ducks then began to heat up on offense with 8:52 to go, connecting on four straight field goals including two 3-pointers from Pritchard to notch an 11-0 scoring run and tie the game at 54 with seven minutes remaining.

ASU slowed the pace and stayed in the game as Verge Jr. and Edwards combined for nine points across a six-minute stretch.

With just over two minutes remaining, Pritchard picked up his fifth foul, sending him to the bench for good. Now in the bonus and with a five-point lead, the Sun Devils saw this as the turning point.

ASU proceeded to collect 11 points in the final two minutes en route to the victory.

“The win felt good, but I feel like we still have work to do,” Edwards said. “We have practice tomorrow, and we are focused on the next game.”

The six-game winning streak is the longest such streak in the Pac-12 since the 1980-81 season.

ASU will have a day practice before heading back to Desert Financial Arena as it hosts Oregon State on Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. MST.

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