It was dirty, it was grimy but the Ducks pulled out a close win against the Arizona State Sun Devils 68-65. With the win the Ducks improve to 14-2 on the season, and 3-0 in conference play. Oregon also moved into first place in the Pac-12 Conference standings with their victory over the Sun Devils. While the Ducks were predicted to finish seventh in the Pac-12 preseason poll, center Tony Woods expected to be first in the Pac-12 when conference play started.
“We had high hopes for the season,” said Woods. “We have a lot of talent and we feel like we deserve to be here.”
Oregon has started conference play strong and is now ranked No. 21 in the AP top 25 poll for the first time since the 2007-2008 season. Oregon also upped their home winning streak to 18, tying them for the sixth longest streak in the country. It came down to hitting free throws late for Oregon and the Ducks did that, hitting 14 of 15 in the game. The Ducks continued their trend of balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Forward Carlos Emory led the Ducks with 14 points and 8 rebounds.
“We found a way to win. In a 31 game schedule you’re going to have a couple of those where you just have to find a way.” Head coach Dana Altman said on the sloppy win. “I’m very pleased we stepped up and made free throws.”
After the Ducks started out hot early, shooting 67 percent from the field, the score was tied up 9-9. Then Damyean Dotson scored 10 straight points as the Ducks pushed into halftime up 32-28.Through halftime the Ducks shot 37 percent from field. Emory and Dotson combined 8-12, while the rest of team went 4-20.
With 2:38 left in the game, Arsalan Kazemi put the Ducks up two 59-57 with a tip slam. That play was the difference in the game, according to Altman. After a three pointer by Carrick Felix put the Sun Devils up one, the Ducks took the lead for good on a Tony Woods dunk. Oregon would clinch the game with seven free throws. Altman said he likes Oregon’s offensive balance, which features 5 players who score in double figures.
“I like that we have plenty of guys who can score so that if someone is having an off night, someone else can step in.”
The Ducks will travel for their first road trip of the conference season to play the LA schools. Oregon will play the 7-10 USC Trojans on Thursday and the 14-3 UCLA Bruins Saturday. The Bruins are undefeated in conference play and are currently riding a nine game winning streak.