The crowd at Matthew Knight Arena watched as an Oregon six-point lead quickly faded away. With a 5-0 run, the Arizona State Sun Devils had crept back up to even the scoreboard with 34 seconds remaining in first half.
The half’s final possession was given to Oregon, and forward Payton Pritchard stalled with the ball at the top of the arc.
He looked to the right and found Elijah Brown in the corner. Brown swished in a three-pointer, giving Oregon a 43-40 lead at the half. A lead that would last the game.
With the help of Brown’s scoring and Pritchard leading the team in assists, Oregon (18-10, Pac-12 8-7) beat ASU (19-8, 7-8) 75-68 on Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena. The win ties Oregon with Washington for sixth in the Pac-12, ends the Ducks’ two-game losing streak, and completes the sweep of the Sun Devils 2-0.
“Our formula for this team hasn’t changed much,” head coach Dana Altman said. “If we out-rebound people and hold them under 70, our success rate has been pretty high.”
As a team known for taking outside shots, the Ducks focused on staying inside the paint during tonight’s game. Oregon scored 36 of their 75 points in the paint and kept ASU down to 14.
To start the second half, Oregon went on a 13-0 run. Brown scored seven of those points in a minute to put Oregon up by double digits for the first time in the game.
“I was just trying to shoot every shot like I shoot in the gym by myself,” Brown said. “A lot of my career I find myself stepping outside the three-point line. The more I’m able to mix my game up, the more my career will open up.”
Brown led Oregon with 19 points and a season-high seven rebounds. Following him was MiKyle McIntosh with 16 points and Paul White with 11. Pritchard led the team with six assists, as Oregon had a season-low seven turnovers.
With four blocks from Kenny Wooten, Oregon held strong defense against the Sun Devils. The freshman’s 76 blocks rank sixth on Oregon’s career all-time list. The mark also surpasses Robin Lopez of Stanford (2007) for third in the all-time Pac-12 freshman season block list.
“Kenny was different tonight,” Altman said comparing Wooten’s performance from the weekend prior. “He changed the game for us defensively. I mean they were looking over their shoulders when they were bringing it in. His activity is a big big part in our defense, no doubt about that.”
Thanks to an early 5-0 run, ASU held the lead for the majority of the first half. Yet, with a lack of baskets from two of their starters, senior guard Tra Holder and redshirt freshman Romello White, the Sun Devils went down by as much as 13 points to Oregon in the second half.
The Ducks will have to keep up this success for a trip to March’s NCAA Tournament. Knowing what’s on the line, Oregon will test itself on Saturday against No. 14 Arizona in the regular season’s last home game.
“At this point, every game is a new game for us,” Pritchard said. “We don’t got many games left to worry about getting better. We move on to the next one and hopefully take care of Arizona.”
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter: @maggie_vanoni