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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hoops: Wildcats down Sun Devils

Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh/Arizona Daily Wildcat

TEMPE — Statistics don’t tell the entire story, especially in rivalry games.

But in Arizona’s 77-58 victory against ASU in Tempe on Saturday, the box score showed everything that had transpired in Wells Fargo Arena as the Wildcats snapped a five-game skid to ASU.

The stat sheet showed that neither team shot over 30 percent from the field or scored more than 27 points in the first half. It also told a story of two halves — a skewed 75 percent shooting for Arizona (10-9, 4-3 Pacific 10 Conference) in the second half compared to 32 percent for ASU.

Then, the box score gave evidence to the intense rivalry.

UA forward Kevin Parrom’s hard foul on ASU guard Ty Abbott gave Parrom a technical and personal foul, which fouled him out of the game with 8:36 remaining. In a situation which might have fired up the Sun Devils (14-6, 4-3 Pac-10), it was the Wildcats who took the play to heart and ran away with the game.

“”Coach, he wants us to play harder, especially on the road, and set the tone from the beginning,”” said freshman forward Derrick Williams, who scored 20 points. “”Actually, Kevin’s foul set the tone. Was it dirty? Good hard foul on the ball. That’s what set the tone.””

Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek earned his own technical foul exactly three minutes after Parrom received his, symbolizing the breakdown of ASU’s then-nation-leading defense, which gave up 52 points to the Wildcats in the second half. It was just two points short of the average 54 points per game ASU’s defense gave up coming into the Duel in the Desert.

At 24 percent and 29 percent shooting between UA and ASU in the first half respectively, neither team could penetrate the other’s interior defense. More than half of each teams’ shots came from beyond the 3-point stripe in the first half.

“”Second half, we made an attempt to drive and then kick out to the open man,”” point guard Nic Wise said. “”We were knocking down shots.””

Wise scored 16 points and dished out six assists while showing rare vocal emotion. It was understandable after losing five straight games to the rival Sun Devils.

“”Nic Wise is a very, very good player,”” Miller said unprompted after the game. “”He’s seen it all. I think he set the tone for our team.””

In the second half, Arizona’s 75 percent and the Sun Devil’s 32 percent shooting was explained by the relentlessness of UA’s tempo. Their man-to-man defense stifled an ASU team with no go-to-shooter aside from forward Rihards Kuksiks, who had a team-high of 15 points.

Despite being down 20-10, the Wildcats rallied behind their own brand of defense and went into halftime down only 27-25. Coming out of the break, the team stuck with their game plan and eventually broke the game wide open.

“”I will say, when you’ve played 10 games away from home, it starts to work in your favor,”” Miller said. “”You understand winning or losing at halftime doesn’t mean a lot.””

As his team began to adjust to ASU’s match-up zone, and the Sun Devils continued to miss shots, Arizona took advantage, moving the ball up the court off rebounds for fast-break layups. UA guard Kyle Fogg, who led all scorers with 21 points, scored 13 points in the second half.

Miller said the win was a solid victory and nothing more. But after a frustrating period of losses to ASU, Wise couldn’t hide his satisfaction.

“”This is what it has been,”” Wise said of the rivalry before the losing streak. “”This year it’s a different game, different story.””

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