Arizona sweeps 2-game series with ASU, wins decisively in Tucson

Jan 25, 2021, 11:26 PM | Updated: 11:48 pm
Arizona guard James Akinjo (13) shoots over Arizona State guard Holland Woods during the first half...

Arizona guard James Akinjo (13) shoots over Arizona State guard Holland Woods during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Thursday’s meeting between Arizona and Arizona State felt like a game the Wildcats should have controlled. But then it got weird, as most rivalry matchups do, with a putback buzzer-beater winning the game for Arizona.

Monday’s iteration, though, didn’t leave any doubt as to who the better team is.

Arizona blew out Arizona State for a majority of the game, with the Sun Devils making it interesting enough in the second half for a final scoreline of 80-67.

“The bottom line was Arizona was the hungrier team and they were more ready to play right at the start of the game and there wasn’t really a whole lot we could do,” Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game.

As was the case in the first matchup, the Wildcats’ athleticism and length on defense presented major problems for the Sun Devils’ insistence on attacking off the dribble. ASU continued to try and create shots off the bounce to little success.

“I thought we took some really challenging shots,” Hurley said. “Our shot selection was not really good.”

Arizona State did not score until the 13:17 mark of the first half and trailed 40-18 at halftime. The Sun Devils shot 23% from the field and 1-of-12 from three-point range in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second half on Thursday, Arizona State got out in transition and to the foul line to get back in the game. There was no such offensive surge from the Sun Devils on Monday, but ASU’s deficit did slowly dwindle.

With under three minutes to go, the Sun Devils only trailed by nine after being down by as many as 25. ASU, however, couldn’t string together enough defensive stops to cut down Arizona’s lead even further.

“I commend our effort in the second half but the cabinet is filled with moral victories so I’m not really that enthusiastic that we put together a decent second half,” Hurley said. “Not many positives to take out of this.”

ASU freshmen Josh Christopher (1-of-8 shooting) and Marcus Bagley (3-of-7) both fouled out. Senior guard Remy Martin scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half.

Arizona’s starting backcourt of James Akinjo (16 points) and Terrell Brown Jr. (18 points) combined for 34 points while big man Azuolas Tubelis added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Sun Devils had 12 turnovers and 11 assists while the Wildcats topped that with 17 turnovers and 13 assists. Arizona was 32-of-43 from the free-throw line.

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