No. 4 Arizona explodes in second half to run away from Arizona State 91-79
Arizona State sprinted out of the gates at home Monday night against its in-state rival, Arizona.
The Sun Devils had a 14-1 lead three minutes and eight seconds and the crowd at Desert Financial Arena was dreaming of a second top-five upset in as many games. The Sun Devils picked up the win of the season last Saturday in upsetting No. 3 UCLA in triple-overtime, but beating the fourth-ranked Arizona Wildcats at home would offer something sweeter.
ASU hit triples, Arizona turned the ball over, ASU whipped the ball around and got good offense. Arizona had a 13-rebound advantage at halftime and a big edge in paint points but 12 turnovers led to 21 ASU points and the Sun Devils went into the halftime break within four.
Then the Cats opened up the throttle and did to the Sun Devils exactly what had been done to them to start the game. Arizona opened the second half on a 19-4 run.
A Kerr Kriisa 3-pointer on the break opened the scoring, then Arizona went dunk, dunk, fastbreak layup, dunk, dunk, dunk, free throw, free throw, fastbreak layup. The Cats essentially lived in transition to start the second half, blowing the game open and building up a 20-point lead at one point.
They left no doubt, winning their 20th game of the season in dominating fashion, 91-79. The Wildcats are now 20-2 on the year, 10-1 in conference play. It’s the fastest they’ve reached 20 wins in a season since the 2016-17 campaign.
Six Wildcats reached double-figures scoring, led by 19 points from forward Azuolas Tubelis, who also posted 11 rebounds.
Guard Benn Mathurin put up 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Pelle Larsson had 14 points on a perfect 5-for-5 night (3-for-3 from beyond the arc). Oumar Ballo posted a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double off the bench. Dalen Terry had four steals to go with his 12 points and six boards.
The Sun Devils were led by a pair of 16-point scorers in Marreon Jackson and Jay Heath. DJ Horne and Kimani Lawrence each added 11 points.
UA’s size was too much. Its athleticism and length was too much. ASU closed the game on a 7-0 run to make things look a bit closer than they were.
That’s not to knock the Sun Devils. They fought hard in the first half. They played with tenacity. But it was their second game in three nights and it showed. Arizona State got sped up and then Arizona feasted.
This was more about the Wildcats’ combustibility and talent in the open floor. They scored 22 fastbreak points. Mathurin had highlight moments at the rim. Terry had a handful of passes that would drop jaws.
Arizona dominated the glass 48-26 and the paint 52-28. If not for the 32 points the Sun Devils scored off 20 Arizona turnovers, things might have gotten out of hand sooner. The Cats ended the game shooting 57% from the field.
Arizona has a couple days rest before traveling to Pullman to face Washington State on Thursday. Tip-off in that one is set for 6 p.m. PT.
The Sun Devils (7-14, 3-8 Pac-12) will also get a little bit of a breather. They return to action Thursday against Washington in Seattle at 8 p.m. PT.