ASU basketball drops to fourth in AP Poll; Arizona climbs to 14

Ruben Hill
January 2, 2018

Michigan State took over the top spot from Villanova, which lost at Butler.

The Wildcats lost 89-64 to Purdue on November 24 in the Bahamas but beat Texas A&M 67-64 on December 5 in Phoenix.

Arizona (11-3) are winners of eight straight and continues its domination of ASU (12-1) at home - winners of 18 of the last 21 head-to-head matchups dating back two decades. "We didn't play our best offensive game but a lot of the credit goes to Arizona and their game plan and their desire to defend".

The first of those came on Arizona State's first basket of the night, the result of an extra pass from Mickey Mitchell that led to a Holder triple in front of the Wildcat bench.

The burst wasn't quite enough, however, as Arizona made all four of its free throw attempts in the closing seconds to salt away the 84-78 win. Tenth-ranked TCU went down in a 90-89 thriller against Trae Young and Oklahoma, the number-one 'Nova Wildcats got beat up in IN by a hot-shooting Butler, and the upstart number-three Sun Devils were defeated on the road by in-state rivals Arizona.

Once again Allonzo Trier had a slow first half.

While Arizona State (12-1, 0-1) can feel good about its series of late surges that pushed Arizona to the wire, the Sun Devils will also lament a missed opportunity to assert superiority in a rivalry where they have often been the little brother. Justice scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers, and Evans added seven in the spurt. Trier missed a drive, but Ayton tipped it in to make it 80-76. Trier then went to the line on Arizona's next possession and hit two free throws to give him a total of five first half points.

The 19 rebounds were the most by an Arizona player since Derrick Williams did it back in 2011 and the most by a UA freshman since Bob Elliott did it in the 1973 season.

Ayton and the 7-footer Ristic dominated the game inside despite a game-high six turnovers.

Ibis' previous career-high was 20 points against Colgate back on November 19.

After an Arizona State timeout, Ruden scored a three-pointer from the top of the key to give ASU an 80-77 lead with 43 seconds remaining.

"I would say they're undersized big men", Ayton said, "so I took advantage on both ends of the floor".

Robbi Ryan finished with 14 points for the Sun Devils, which shot 32 of 67 (48 percent) from the field.

A devotion to defense and hustle was evident as the Sun Devils turned the Wildcats over 16 times in the Pac-12 opener. Their performance on Saturday night showed that Arizona, ranked No. 2 nationally in the preseason, still could be the team to beat in the conference.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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