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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Men’s hoops goes for season sweep over ASU

Part two of the 2016 Duel in the Desert takes place Wednesday night when ASU travels to McKale Center to take on Arizona. 

After sweeping the Los Angeles schools over the weekend, No. 12 Arizona will be looking to win its second matchup of the year with its in-state rival. 

The rivals played a close game in the beginning of January, when Arizona walked away with a win over the Sun Devils, 94-82. Gabe York had 22 points for the Wildcats while Allonzo Trier added 20.

ASU (14-12, 4-9 Pac-12 Conference) has been stuck at the bottom of the Pac-12 this season. Its only conference victories came against Washington State, Oregon State and a recent upset over former No. 23 USC. 

The Sun Devils rank in the middle of the pack in points per game with about 75.5 and in points allowed per game with 73.1. ASU is shooting 43 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point land.

The Wildcats have been riding a lot of momentum as they reach the tail end of the regular season. Arizona is currently on a five-game winning streak, which put the Wildcats in a tie with Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings.

 With five regular season games remaining, Arizona plays three of the five at home as it heads into the Pac-12 Tournament. 

“If we win the league, some of the things I’m talking about are going to continue to improve. I guess that would be my point,” head coach Sean Miller said after Sunday’s win over USC. “I think we’ve established ourselves that we’re good. If we want to [get] a real chance at this regular season championship, we can’t do the things that we just did in the second half.”

Defense continues to be the biggest question mark of the season for Arizona. After playing arguably its best defense of the season and only allowing USC to score 30 points in the first half on Sunday, the Wildcats turned around and allowed the Trojans to climb back into the game and score 48 points in the second half. 

“Some of what [USC] took advantage of had a lot to do with us,” Miller said. “I’m hoping we can stop that. We haven’t really stopped it yet and eventually this team’s season will end earlier than we want it to end if the details of what we do don’t improve, and I’m really talking as much about defense as anything else.”

Arizona is looking to sweep the Sun Devils for the first time since 2013. The past two years, ASU has upset the Wildcats in Tempe. ASU head coach Bobby Hurley, in his first rivalry game against Arizona, was ejected late in the game after arguing with officials.

ASU guard Tra Holder leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game. Forward Savon Goodman is averaging about 10 points and seven rebounds per game for the Sun Devils. 

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in McKale Center and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter

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