EUGENE, Ore. (AP)—Tajuan Porter helped Oregon survive a rare off night by star guard Aaron Brooks.
The freshman point guard scored 24 points to lead the 13th-ranked Ducks to a 55-51 win Thursday night against a resilient Arizona State team looking for its first league win of the season.
Porter was 8-for-12 from the field with six 3-pointers as he scored his most points since breaking the Oregon single-game record for a freshman with 38 points against Portland State on Nov. 12.
“I haven’t been hot like that since like the first three games,” Porter said. “I still have confidence, but I wasn’t expecting to shoot like that tonight.”
Brooks, who started the game as the Pac-10’s leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, tied a season-low with five points on 1-of-8 shooting and was held scoreless in the first half.
“Tajuan stepped up,” said Brooks of his 5-foot-6 teammate. “He played big today. He played 6-5 today.”
Maarty Leunen added nine points and Malik Hairston had eight for the Ducks, who had only one player score in double digits for the first time all season. It was also the lowest scoring game of the season for Oregon, both in terms of points scored and points allowed.
Still, it was enough to give the Ducks (20-4, 8-4 Pac-10) their fourth 20-win season in 12 years under head coach Ernie Kent.
“Twenty wins is a benchmark for any elite program,” Kent said. “To get there this early in the season, everyone should understand what an accomplishment that is.”
It didn’t come easy however.
Oregon entered its first home game since Jan. 20, having lost three of four and looking to get some momentum built heading into Saturday’s showdown with No. 24 Arizona.
Porter kept the Ducks in the game early, scoring 14 of their first 16 points. He had 17 points total in the first half including five 3-pointers.
“He just came out gunning,” Hairston said. “He carried us. He shot the ball with confidence and I think he did a great job running the show.”
Oregon outscored Arizona State 12-0 in the final 4:45 of the first half to lead 33-21 at the break.
The Sun Devils (6-17, 0-12) turned the table on the Ducks in the second half. They outscored Oregon 21-9 in the first 10:26, with 18 of those points coming off six 3-pointers. Derek Glasser made four 3s himself, including one at the 9:33 mark to tie the game 42-42.
The Ducks meanwhile, turned the ball over seven times during that run by Arizona State.
Oregon scored the next five points to reclaim a 47-42 lead, and a 3-pointer by Leunen with just under five minutes to play gave the Ducks a 50-44 advantage.
Though the Ducks wouldn’t hit another shot, Leunen seemingly sealed the win from the foul line, knocking down a pair of free throws with 44 seconds left to make it 52-45.
But Glasser hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 16 seconds to make it 54-51 with nine seconds to play. A free throw by Brooks with 7 seconds sealed the game.
“Our guys are putting themselves in positions to win,” Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said. “They have great heart and tremendous effort. Unfortunately it hasn’t translated into wins.”
Glasser finished with a career-high 17 points all in the second half while Jeff Pendergraph recorded 19 rebounds.