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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 17 Arizona knocks off undefeated No. 3 ASU

Simon Asher
Arizona’s Deandre Ayton shows a barrage of emotion after picking up an and-one late in the UA-ASU game. Ayton had 23 points.

Behind 23 points from Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier, No. 17 Arizona Men’s basketball knocked off previously undefeated No. 3 Arizona State University 84-78 to open conference play Saturday in the McKale Center. 

The Sun Devils fell to 12-1 while Arizona picked up its eighth straight win and improved to 11-3 and 1-0 in the Pac-12. 

Ayton had 23 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and two blocks as well as a game-sealing tip-in with 11 seconds left in the game. Ayton was double-teamed off and on under the rim, but it didn’t stop him from getting putback dunks and pushing the smaller ASU players around under the basket. He shot 9-for-14 from the floor.

“I’m just the highest big man,” Ayton said. “I took advantage of it tonight.” 

Arizona State’s senior guard Tra Holder led all scorers with 31 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Holder went to the free throw line 16 times and hit 15 of his attempts.  

“He’s just so explosive, he’s a monster,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. “He’s almost like Kevin Johnson, who played for the Phoenix Suns, with incredible ball handling and quickness.”

Arizona State's Tra Holder, right, blows past Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright, left, in the first half of the UA-ASU game.
Arizona State’s Tra Holder, right, blows past Arizona’s Parker Jackson-Cartwright, left, in the first half of the UA-ASU game.

With just over one minute left in the game, Arizona had a five-point lead until Ayton turned the ball over on a pass to Parker Jackson-Cartwright. ASU’s Kodi Justice hit a three off the turnover to bring the game within two. Trier missed a jump shot on the next possession and officials called jump ball as both teams fought for the rebound. The possession arrow favored Arizona. Trier dribbled out most of the shot clock and then missed another jumper, but this time Ayton tipped it in putting the Wildcats up 80-76. 

With just over 10 seconds left Arizona State’s Holder ran down the floor and was fouled on a layup. Holder hit both free throws to bring it back to 80-78. Arizona inbounded the ball to Trier and ASU immediately fouled him. Trier hit both free throws to put Arizona back up by four.  

ASU then missed a three and fouled Brandon Randolph on the rebound with 1.3 seconds left. Randolph hit both his shots before ASU inbounded the ball to end the game. 

“We didn’t finish the game well at all,” Miller said. “We are fortunate, we could have just paraded our way at the free throw line.”

Trier’s 23 points put him over the 1000 career points mark. However, his points did not come early as he got off to a slow start. He went 0-6 until the last minute of the first half when he hit a transition three off of a missed dunk by ASU. Trier found a rhythm in the second half and made his way to the free throw line 10 times. He finished with four assists and no turnovers.  

“I’m a confident dude, I’ve put a lot of work in.” Trier said. “A couple tough misses, they felt good.. I knew my shot would start falling eventually.”

Arizona's Allonzo Trier jumps to lay in the ball over Arizona State's Romello White. White fouled out in the second half with two points.
Arizona’s Allonzo Trier jumps to lay in the ball over Arizona State’s Romello White. White fouled out in the second half with two points.

Miller said Trier has had a tendency to start games slow and finish strong this year. 

“We need him to maybe just start strong and finish strong,” Miller said. “And what would that game look like, it would be a monster game.” 

Arizona held ASU to 38 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three. ASU shot 50 percent from deep in the first half, but went 3-for-15 in the second half. Arizona shot 45 percent overall, but 55 percent in the second half. 

Dylan Smith gave Arizona a first half boost off the bench while Trier struggled to find his shot. Smith entered the game around five minutes in, hit two 3-pointers in a row and found Brandon Randolph for a corner three. Then with just under seven minutes in the first half, he hit another three to give him nine points. 

The smaller Sun Devils out-rebounded the Wildcats 16-13 on the offensive glass, although Arizona won the overall rebounding battle 40-39. 

Despite school being out for winter break and the resulting lack of a student section, McKale Center was a noisy sea of red. Miller said he is grateful for the energy Arizona fans bring to the team and complemented their ability to give the team a spark when they need it.  

“It was nice, it was pretty intense,” Ayton said. “I couldn’t hear myself for a few possessions.”

The game consisted of a number of runs, with six lead changes. In the second half Arizona went on a 7-0 run to put them up 12 with 10:55 to go in the game, but ASU answered with a 9-0 run around nine minutes remaining to bring it back within three. Arizona did not make a field goal for over three minutes, letting ASU climb to within one, 64-63, with 7:52 to go. 

As a result of ASU’s full court press Arizona turned the ball over three times at the beginning of the second half, two back-to-back off of inbounds passes in the first two possessions. Overall, Arizona turned the ball over 16 times and forced 13 turnovers from ASU. 

Arizona moves on to play Utah Thursday at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. 

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