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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Desert sweep

    Arizonas Nic Wise, bottom, fights for a loose ball during the closing seconds of a 70-68 UA loss to No. 14 ASU Sunday night in Wells Fargo Arena. The loss marks the Wildcats fourth-straight loss to the Sun Devils after winning 24 of the 25 previous meetings.
    Arizona’s Nic Wise, bottom, fights for a loose ball during the closing seconds of a 70-68 UA loss to No. 14 ASU Sunday night in Wells Fargo Arena. The loss marks the Wildcats’ fourth-straight loss to the Sun Devils after winning 24 of the 25 previous meetings.

    No. 14 ASU 70, Arizona 68

    TEMPE – Hate, raw emotion, passion and drama.

    No, this isn’t a dysfunctional family found in the heart of Anytown, USA. These words describe a feud in the heart of the desert at the apex of its rivalry.

    The Arizona men’s basketball snapped its seven-game winning streak with a 70-68 loss to No. 14 ASU (21-5, 10-4 Pacific 10 Conference) in Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday night, despite the Wildcats’ heartfelt comeback down the stretch.

    With just seconds left, UA forward Jordan Hill missed a six-footer that would have tied the game at 70, but the 6-foot-10 junior insisted ASU forward Jeff Pendergraph’s defense had something to do with the missed shot.

    “”I got fouled on that play,”” said Hill, who finished with 14 points on 7-for-14 shooting. “”I got really pushed on that play. … Just look at the game (on film) again, you’ll see.””

    Arizona had more chances when Hill missed. Zane Johnson missed what would have been a game-tying tip-in.

    “”I thought it was a tie game,”” Hill said of Johnson’s missed bucket. “”He was by himself.””

    Instead, ASU guard Derek Glasser found himself with the ball and was fouled by Jamelle Horne with 5.6 seconds left.

    Glasser missed the front end of his one-and-one, but UA guard Nic Wise lost control of the ball at halfcourt, and after a scramble ASU guard James Harden came up with the ball as time expired. ASU fans rushed the court to celebrate the Devils’ fourth straight win over the Wildcats (18-9, 8-6).

    “”We have a set play that we run off of a free throw, and we just mishandled the ball,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell, who was an ASU assistant coach from 1998-2006, and an ASU color commentator on the radio from 2007-08. “”You can get to the rim in under five-plus seconds, which we had.

    “”We just have a set where we set the ball and have a couple guys trail,”” Pennell added. “”If you can get all the way to the rim, that’s great. If not, you can pitch it for a 3 or whatever shot’s available.””

    With 13:47 left, a 3-pointer by Harden – who led all scorers with 18 points – put the Sun Devils up by 17, but the Wildcats didn’t let up. Arizona went on a 23-4 run, capped by a Horne 3-pointer to give the UA a 62-60 lead with 4:07 left.

    “”We fought hard the whole game,”” said Wise, who scored a team-high 17 points. “”That’s one thing that’s different from last year. We don’t quit.””

    Added Budinger, who registered 13 points and 9 rebounds: “”We’re a team that likes to fight. We’re never going to quit. We’re never going to give up. It doesn’t matter how bad we’re losing, we’re always going to try to find a way to get back in the game.””

    But 3-pointers on ASU’s end knocked the Wildcats back down.

    With 1:15 left in the game, ASU forward Rihards Kuksiks made two 3-pointers to put his team ahead 68-66.

    It was only the Devils’ third trey in 14 attempts in the second half, but it was Kuksiks’ fifth long ball overall.

    “”We just needed to match up on him better than we did tonight,”” Budinger said of Kuksiks, who registered 17 points. “”Especially toward the end of the second half.””

    Arizona was killed by ASU’s dominance from beyond the arc during the first half when the Sun Devils were 10-for-16, with four players scoring from long range.

    “”It was frustrating,”” Budinger said, “”but like the coaches say, the percentages always come back.””

    With the loss, the Wildcats are now in fifth place in the Pac-10. But with five guaranteed games left in the season, that won’t stop Arizona’s push toward the postseason.

    “”We’re still good,”” Wise said. “”It’s just a bump in the road, you know?””

    And 1

    Arizona freshmen Garland Judkins and D.J. Shumpert were suspended for this game for “”failing to meet team obligations,”” Pennell said. Neither player was at the game.

    “”I’ll make a decision (about their status) when we get back home,”” Pennell said. “”I really haven’t even thought of it.””

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