Nick Johnson scored seven consecutive points to start a pivotal 20-5 run over a 7:25 span of the second half to lead 18th-ranked Arizona to a 73-58 win over Arizona State at McKale Center in Tucson Saturday.
The Sun Devils, who faced a 15-point deficit at the half, clawed their way back into the game. Jonathan Gilling hit a three-pointer with 11:26 left to close the gap to five points. But Johnson took over, igniting the run that clinched the win for the Wildcats.
Johnson led Arizona with 17 points while seniors Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill chipped in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Sun Devils got a game-high 22 points from senior Carrick Felix, who was playing in the final regular season of his collegiate career. Freshman Jahii Carson scored 15 for the Sun Devils, who finished the regular season on a four-game losing streak. ASU’s record fell to 20-11 overall and 9-9 in Pac-12 play.
Felix was outstanding on the offensive end. After playing probably his worst game of the season in ASU’s loss to Arizona in Tempe in January, the Millennium High product bounced back. Felix hit 6-of-9 field goal attempts and had his seventh game of 20 or more points this season.
ASU got crushed on the boards again. Arizona outrebounded the Sun Devils 35-23 and Herb Sendek’s team grabbed only three offensive rebounds to 13 for UA. The Wildcats had 12 second chance points while ASU managed three. In fact, the three second chance points represented the total in that category in two games against Arizona this season.
Evan Gordon, who went scoreless in two road games in Los Angeles last weekend, saw his struggles continue. The junior guard did manage to score three points, but was again not a factor in the game.
Jordan Bachynski, sporting a new haircut, grabbed one rebound in 27 minutes on the floor. It was Bachynski’s lowest rebound total of the season.
Gilling also had a sub-standard game. The Danish sophomore had three points on 1-of-4 shooting before fouling out.
In fact, outside of Felix and Carson, the other eight Sun Devils who played combined to score 21 points.
Arizona did a fantastic job on cutting down Carson’s penetration for most of the game. Carson had to settle for jump shots and had just three assists and six turnovers. ASU turned the ball over 17 times in the game.
He Said It:
“That was a royal butt-whoopin. With so much once again riding on it — all the different implications in terms of NCAA Tournament bid, Pac-12 seedings — with those things on the line, we just laid an egg and that’s really hard to overcome as a coach. It’s hard to understand as a player. You’ve got one of the best college atmospheres in the country and we don’t scratch. That’s hard to explain.” — ASU associate head coach Dedrique Taylor in a postgame interview with Tim Healey and Kyle Dodd on the MidFirst Bank Sun Devil IMG Sports Network.
• Only two of ASU’s nine conference losses came by double digits — both to Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils by 17 points in Tempe on January 19.
• Gordon started Pac-12 play by scoring three points in three games (68 minutes) against Utah, Colorado and Oregon State. The junior closed Pac-12 play by scoring three points in three games (77 minutes) against UCLA, USC and Arizona. In the middle 12 games of conference play, Gordon averaged 13 points per game.
The Sun Devils head to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas and will play Stanford on Wednesday, March 13 at 12 noon. They’ll likely have to earn four wins in four days to claim a spot in this year’s NCAA Tournament.