Oregon's comeback bid falls just short
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State dominated the first half. Oregon rallied behind Joseph Young.
The long arm of Jordan Bachynski turned out to be the difference.
Bachynski had a career-high 26 points and swatted Young's reverse layup at the buzzer for his ninth block, helping Arizona State hold off hard-charging Oregon 74-72 on Saturday.
"I see a guy cut out of the corner my eye and I knew I had to block that one, that I had to have that one and I came up with it," said Bachynski, who also had a game-ending block in a victory over Marquette and finished with nine rebounds.
Arizona State (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12) dominated the first half, building a 20-point lead while the Ducks flailed at both ends.
Oregon (15-8, 3-8) put together a furious rally behind Young and its press in the second half, using a 34-11 run to take the lead with 5 minutes left.
Young scored all of his 29 points in the second half and hit four 3-pointers, but couldn't get his final shot past Bachynski's long arm, sending Oregon to its fourth 2-point conference loss.
"It's a tough way to lose, fighting back like that and having a chance," said Oregon forward Mark Moser, who broke out of a mini slump with 14 points. "Real tough."
The Sun Devils dominated early behind Bachynski and Jahii Carson, who finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Once Oregon went to the press, Arizona State was knocked back on its heels, struggling to get the ball past midcourt or to get shots to fall.
The Sun Devils found a way to pull it out and avoid what would have been an ugly loss after Jermaine Marshall hit a runner with 13 seconds left and Bachynski swatted Young.
Shaquielle McKissic added 15 points for Arizona State, which shot 3 of 15 from 3-point range and had 15 turnovers that led to 21 points for Oregon.
"The one thing that is certain is that nothing is predictable in this game," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said. "The guys knew the game wasn't over."
While Arizona State has gotten back on track, moving up to third in the Pac-12 with four wins in five games, Oregon has drifted from the postseason bubble.
The Ducks had a chance to gain a little momentum against No. 2 Arizona Thursday night, but faltered down the stretch.
Leading most of the second half, Oregon botched the end of the game with a turnover, a questionable shot and three missed free throws in the 67-65 loss.
That put added emphasis the game against Arizona State.
The Ducks didn't play like there was much urgency in the first half, digging a deep hole as they missed one shot after another and Arizona State scored seemingly whenever and wherever it wanted.
Bachynski and Carson had their way with Oregon throughout the first half, combining on numerous pick-and-rolls for easy baskets.
Bachynski had 18 points and five rebounds by halftime, and Carson filled up the state sheet with five points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Sun Devils made 15 of 22 shots in the half and led 43-23.
The Ducks were dysfunctional on offense throughout the half, struggling from the perimeter or to get much going inside, where Bachynski blocked one shot and altered numerous others.
Oregon missed its first nine 3-point attempts and finished 1-of-13 in the first half, and shot 9 of 36 overall.
"We were missing easy shots, easy shots at the basket, real frustrating, just kind of stagnant and not in the flow offensively," Moser said.
The Ducks turned it around quickly behind Young and their press.
Forcing turnovers and tough shots, Oregon was able to push the pace and get out in transition for baskets in the lane and from the arc.
The Ducks scored on consecutive three-point plays — one off a turnover caused by the press — and hit three 3-pointers during a rapid-fire 20-3 run that cut Arizona State's lead to 53-49.
Young, who went 0-for-5 in the first half, confidently pulled up for 3-pointers and got into the lane, almost single-handedly bringing the Ducks back.
Oregon kept up the pressure and Arizona State kept stumbling, missing 18 of 21 shots — over 8 minutes without a field goal — as Oregon went ahead 61-59 with just over 5 minutes left.
Arizona State went up 71-68 on a pair of free throws, then Young hit a pull-up jumper with 47 seconds left to cut the lead to one.
The Sun Devils had to call two timeouts to escape Oregon's pressure before Jermaine Marshall hit an off-balance runner with 13 seconds left.
Young hit two free throws with 4.9 seconds left and Marshall hit 1 of 2 to give the Ducks a final shot, but Bachynski swooped in to knock Young's final attempt away.
"Just disappointed for the guys, they battled their tails off in the second half," said Oregon coach Dana Altman. "As disappointed as I was in them in the first half, I was equally as proud for battling back and trying to find a way."
The Ducks got everything but the finish, thanks to Bachynski's long arm.