Stanley Johnson opened conference play with a chip on his shoulder after literally stumbling on missed opportunities last month in Arizona’s loss to UNLV.
The freshman guard came off the bench Sunday in the No. 8/7 Wildcats’ (13-1, 1-0) 73-49 win over Arizona State and scored 13 points with seven rebounds and two assists.
That chip on his shoulder got knocked into next week.
And an Arizona State team (8-6, 0-1) struggling to find its identity through lineup shifts and despite young players was handed one — not by choice — in the loss: Team Turnover.
The Sun Devils entered the matchup with a reputation for handing the ball over on 21 percent of its possessions. Arizona entered it as a team that had previously forced an average of 14.6 turnovers per game.
ASU opened with 13 first-half turnovers on 36 possessions (36 percent). The Wildcats scored 15 points off those turnovers to push a 20-point lead by halftime. The Sun Devils would finish with a season-high 22 total turnovers.
Arizona’s Brandon Ashley poured in 13 points and grabbed three rebounds alongside Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s 13 points and eight rebounds. Hollis-Jefferson also added four assists in the effort.
The Sun Devils were led by guard Gerry Blakes’ nine points, two rebounds. Starting guard Roosevelt Scott led ASU in scoring through much of the game with eight points. Both he and ASU’s season scoring leader Savon Goodman found themselves in foul trouble and Scott was stuck with eight in the end alongside Goodman’s two throughout.
No Sun Devil made it into double-digit scoring.
How did the game turn into such a blowout, by the numbers?
Through thirty minutes of play, the Sun Devils had 18 turnovers and just 12 field goals.
By the time the game was over, they had given the ball away 22 times on 70 possessions (31.4 percent). Arizona scored 21 points off ASU turnovers.
Conversely, Arizona’s players gave up 15 turnovers of their own, allowing ASU 20 points off giveaways.
Arizona opened powerfully from the downtown, hitting 4-of-5 triples for its first 12 points. The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the three-point line throughout, hitting 5-of-10 attempts.
ASU’s leading three-point shooter, Jonathan Gilling, made just 2-of-5 attempts from behind the arc, yet the Sun Devils matched Arizona in triples made with five.
The Wildcats bench, led by Johnson, outscored ASU’s bench 28-17.
Arizona’s three leading scorers in Ashley, Hollis-Jefferson, and Johnson each racked up 13 points apiece, accounting for over half of the Wildcats’ total. In fact, their combined 39 points were only 10 less than ASU’s total of 49.
Arizona State had previously been led by Goodman’s strong play and average 15.8 points per game. He was held to just two points against Arizona and found himself in foul trouble early on.
Arizona outscored ASU 26-16 in the paint. Sun Devil big man Eric Jacobsen was almost nonexistent, scoring just five points and grabbing only four rebounds.
The Wildcats won the glass game, grabbing 33 rebounds to ASU’s 23.
Arizona holds quite a home court advantage, and with the victory over Arizona State, the Wildcats won their 30th-straight at McKale Center.
The Wildcats now lead the series against Arizona State, 146-81.
Next, Arizona heads to Matthew Knight Arena to take on Oregon on Jan. 8, while Arizona State will be nearby in Gill Coliseum against Oregon State on the same night.
The Sun Devils and Wildcats will see each other again on Feb. 7 in Tempe for a rematch.