Arizona Wildcats blow out ASU Sun Devils in Pac-12 opener
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Zeke Nnaji had 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping No. 25 Arizona open the Pac-12 season with an overpowering 75-47 win over rival Arizona State on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (11-3) had a size advantage inside and used it, outscoring Arizona State 50-18 in the paint. Arizona also repeatedly raced past the Sun Devils, outscoring them 25-9 in fast-break points to quickly turn the rivalry game into a rout.
Arizona State (9-5) generated almost no inside game against Arizona’s length and struggled to get anything to fall from anywhere. The Sun Devils shot 31%, went 3 for 21 from 3-point range and were 8 of 19 on free throws.
Remy Martin led Arizona State with 20 points.
The Sun Devils swept the season series last year for the first time since 2008-09.
Arizona State arrived in Tucson after an up-and-down nonconference schedule. The Sun Devils beat St. John’s and Creghton, but lost two of their final three games, including a 40-point blowout to Saint Mary’s in Phoenix.
Arizona won its first nine games before closing out the nonconference season with three losses in four games.
The Wildcats pushed around the smaller Sun Devils, dumping the ball into the post early in nearly every possession to utilize their size advantage. Arizona led 36-17 at halftime.
The Wildcats’ length down low caused the Sun Devils even more trouble offensively. Most of Arizona State’s first-half possessions were disjointed and, with no room to operate, often ended with jump shots.
Most missed the mark; the Sun Devils were 7 for 27 from the field, 1 of 10 from 3 in the first half.
Then again, the Sun Devils had trouble shooting with no one guarding them, too, missing their first six free throws while going 2 for 8.
The second half didn’t get any better for the Sun Devils.
Early on, Josh Green grabbed a rebound off a missed Arizona State free throw and scored on an uncontested dunk, sending Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley storming down his bench to find two replacement players.
It didn’t do any good. Arizona didn’t let up and kept stretching the lead.
Arizona State was able to overcome its lack of size some during the non-conference schedule. The Sun Devils may find it a bit tougher during Pac-12 play, as they did against Arizona.
Arizona was solid at both ends to kick off its Pac-12 season with a confidence-building win over its biggest rival.
Arizona State plays at Oregon State Thursday.
Arizona plays at No. 4 Oregon Thursday.
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