Pritchard scores 29 points, No 9 Oregon beat Arizona State

EUGENE, OREGON (AP) — There’s no easy way to defend Payton Pritchard. He hits 3-point shots, going six of nine last Saturday. He drives for baskets. He makes his free throws.

And it all came into play for the senior, who scored 29 points as No nine Oregon held off Arizona State 78-69 .

“He controls the game,” ASU Coach Bobby Hurley said. “Even when he’s got the slightest of an angle he can get by you.

“He’s so crafty and then he’s a threat from so far away he creates a lot of problems.”

So did ASU’s Remy Martin, who matched Pritchard’s career-high point total. Much of the game was a personal duel between the two high-scoring guards.

Pritchard was nine of 16 from the field. He also made all five of his free throws. Martin was nine of 21 from the field and made his eight free throw attempts.

Chris Duarte added 20 points for the Ducks (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12), who have won 11 of their last 12 games against the Sun Devils.

Arizona State (10-6, 1-2) remained one of only two Pac-12 teams, along with Washington State, that has never won at Matthew Knight Arena, which opened in 2011.

Oregon’s Payton Pritchard passes the ball under pressure from Arizona State’s Alonzo Verge during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game. PHOTO: AP

After Arizona State pulled within 65-60 with four minutes remaining, Pritchard responded with a three-point play and the Ducks milked that advantage to the end, even hitting five of their final six free throws after being 10 of 18 before that.

“You hit some free throws and it’s a 15-point game and (the outcome) looks a little different,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve had some nights where we shot (free throws) okay but tonight we shot poorly.

“We’ve just got to do a better job from the line.”

The Ducks started the game shooting well from distance, with five 3-pointers in seven attempts in the opening six minutes on the way to a 19-12 advantage.

The Sun Devils rallied to tie it at 24. “We wanted to set a better tone defensively,” Altman said. “Early we just exchanged baskets. We were just kind of going back and forth and that hasn’t been a good formula for us in the past. I didn’t like the way the game was going. We were scoring but so were they.”

Oregon kept up its torrid shooting and took advantage of ASU missing seven of its last eight shot attempts in the first half for a 40-31 halftime lead.

Pritchard’s sixth 3-pointer pushed Oregon’s lead to 45-31, but the Sun Devils battled back and Martin scored seven consecutive Arizona State points to cut it to 53-48.

The Ducks pushed the lead back into double digits, but again it was Martin responding with another seven-point spurt to draw the Sun Devils to 65-60 before Pritchard’s three-point play put Oregon back up by eight.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Altman said in a familiar refrain. “It’s a work in progress, it’s going to be for a long time.”