No. 17 Arizona defeats No. 3 Arizona State behind Ayton’s double-double
Arizona State was well aware of what the matchup at the McKale Center in Tucson entailed.
Playing their in-state rival with a hostile crowd, all while attempting to control potential future No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton.
While Arizona State was able to hang around with the Wildcats, they could not restrict Ayton from posting his 10th double-double of the season to lead the Wildcats to a 84-78 victory on Saturday.
Ayton finished 9-of-14 shooting for 23 points and 19 rebounds to lead Arizona.
Despite Ayton’s big game, senior guard Tra Holder allowed the Sun Devils to hang around, going 6-of-12 from the field for 31 points and two steals.
Holder was the only Sun Devil who managed to keep his rhythm all night despite committing four of the Sun Devils 13 total turnovers in the game.
Holder also managed to cause numerous Wildcat fouls that led him to be 15-of-16 from the line.
But, his effort wasn’t enough to outlast Ayton and the Wildcats, who also saw 23 points from junior guard Allonzo Trier.
The two were the difference makers for Arizona down the stretch, as Arizona State managed to climb to within two points with two minutes remaining in the game.
“We have to be a little more composed down the stretch,” Trier said to the Pac-12 Network’s Cindy Brunson after the game. “Overall, we had a great effort and we did enough to win that’s all that matters.”
Despite their performance, both Trier and Ayton started slow for the Wildcats.
Trier missed his first six shots of the game and only scored five points in the first half.
Ayton picked up a technical foul early in the game for putting his elbow into the chest of Sun Devils guard Shannon Evans II.
But, the star forward found his rhythm, using his 7-foot-1, 250-pound frame to dominate in the paint, forcing freshman Romello White to foul out of the game in the second half.
“It was intense, especially playing against a top ranked team like that,” Ayton said to the Pac-12 Network’s Cindy Brunson after the game. “We just need to focus on our defense down the stretch.”
The loss for the Sun Devils is their first of the season, and comes at a time where they were the only unbeaten team remaining, as both TCU and Villanova lost before the Sun Devils tipped off against Arizona.
A potential case for the No. 1 team in the country was at stake for the Sun Devils, despite being underdogs to No. 17 Arizona coming into the matchup.
Both teams will take the court again on Jan. 4, as Arizona State will look to rebound against Colorado, while the Wildcats will look to build on their eight game winning streak as they travel to take on Utah.
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