Arizona State looks to regain form vs. Oregon State
Arizona State was the last undefeated team in Division I, but the Sun Devils have hit a speed bump in Pac-12 play.
It has to do with tempo.
Oregon slowed the game considerably in its 76-72 Thursday upset victory over the Sun Devils, their third loss in four games in league play after a 12-0 start.
Arizona State (13-3, 1-3 Pac-12) attempted a season-low 46 field goals against the Ducks, and players admitted that some of those shots were taken in a hurry after the Ducks milked the shot clock at the other end.
The No. 11 Sun Devils might need to guard against more of the same when they play host to Oregon State (10-6, 2-2) on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.
Oregon State has tightened up defensively while adapting to the nuances of coach Wayne Tinkle's pet matchup zone over the past several weeks. No. 17 Arizona had its second-lowest point total of the season in a 62-53 victory over the Beavers on Thursday.
"People scout you," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said.
"They know if they run up and down with us, that is maybe not the best idea after you have the film that you have. I think we're built to win in different ways. We don't have to be one-dimensional, play a fast-break up and down. We do have the inside game, the defense and the quickness in the backcourt to be a good halfcourt team.
"But we have to prove that."
Arizona State scored 90 or more points in nine of its first 12 games but is averaging 77.8 points in the Pac-12, 10 points fewer than its season average. The Sun Devils entered conference play shooting 51 percent from the floor but have dropped to a conference-worst 39.8 percent in league play, including 33 percent from 3-point range.
Guards Tra Holder (20.3 points per game) and Shannon Evans (17.1) continue to rank in the top 10 in the league in scoring, but the Sun Devils, who use a three-guard starting lineup, have not received much inside production in league play.
Interior starters Romello White and Mickey Mitchell combined for 49 points and 54 rebounds in the last four games. Oregon had 15 offensive rebounds and 38 points in the paint Thursday.
"We're searching for the balance we need. We're not getting enough production in the lane right now," Hurley said.
"We're not in a great rhythm, and we haven't been. We've been just kind of grinding it out trying to find it. It's possible it's part of the season, too. You go through stretches where you are not quite in sync like you'd hope."
Oregon State has won eight of its last 11 games, and the recent reliance on the matchup zone defense has been a factor. Opponents have scored 57, 66, 64 and 62 points in conference play.
"When we have it rolling, it's a tough thing to try to score on," sophomore forward Tres Tinkle, the coach's son, told the Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard. "It's also very hard to understand if you're new to it."
Tinkle had 18 points and nine rebounds while making 4-of-6 3-point attempts Thursday. Oregon State limited Arizona to a season-low 21 points at half, but the Beavers could not overcome 39.3 percent shooting in their lowest-scoring game of the season. They were outscored 16-3 in a three-minute stretch late in the half.
"It was a physical game," Wayne Tinkle said. "You saw that down the stretch. We weren't able to make plays."
The 6-foot-8 Tres Tinkle leads the Beavers in scoring (18.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.3), and is second in assists (3.5). Stephen Thompson Jr. is averaging 16.3 points and 3.6 assists.
Updated January 12, 2018