It's all out the window now.
The Pac-10 title race, the slim hope of a 26th straight NCAA title berth, the momentum and swagger of late January, all appeared to become memories Sunday when Arizona lost 73-69 to ASU at McKale Center.
With 28 points on 11-for-17 shooting against the Wildcats' shaky defense, ASU guard Ty Abbott avenged a poor-shooting night and the infamous "no easy baskets" hard foul on him by UA's Kevin Parrom a month earlier during UA's 77-58 win in Tempe.
What's more, the Sun Devils collectively shot 67 percent from the field in the second half and scored 13 points off UA's 12 turnovers for the game, two of which came at particularly costly points late in the game.
The loss was Arizona's fourth in its past five games, dropping the Wildcats to 13-13 overall and 7-7 in the Pac-10, meaning the Wildcats will likely have to win the Pac-10 tournament to get in the NCAA tournament field.
"Our team is young but there's a lot of young teams and a lot of young players," UA coach Sean Miller said. "Our team has to get better. We're mediocre."
ASU, meanwhile, improved to 19-8 and 9-5, with a shot at first-place California on Saturday in Berkeley. It was the first time ASU had won at McKale Center three years in a row since the early 1980s.
While the Sun Devils are in a loss-column tie with the Bears, UA is 2 1/2 games off the pace with just four to go, appearing more like the uneven early-season Wildcats than the team that ripped off four straight wins early in the Pac-10 season.
According to center Derrick Williams' description of the post-game locker room scene, the Wildcats may have realized their goals are all but unattainable now.
"Everybody was real quiet," Williams said. "You don't want to lose to a rival school. Nobody really said anything."
Little was said to the media as well. Williams was the only UA player made available after the game and Miller ended his 11-minute interview by thanking the media and getting up to leave before all the questions were asked.
Of course, the final image was probably stronger than words, anyway. That was the one where Parrom initiated contact with ASU guard Derek Glasser after the final buzzer sounded.
Miller said he told Parrom to leave the floor while the teams shook hands.
"I love to see guys are disappointed with a loss, but we don't do anything other than that," Miller said. "I apologize to Arizona State. Kevin being a young person there's so many lessons young people learn leaving high school and coming to college, and I'm sure Kevin will learn from that. But I didn't feel good about that."
Miller declined to detail his thoughts further. Parrom was not made available for comment and even Glasser declined to bite on the post-game questions about it.
"Honestly, I don't know," Glasser said. "The game was already over. Zeros were on the board and we won. That's all that matters."
Abbott helped the Sun Devils win with his production in both halves, scoring 14 at halftime and 10 more in the first six minutes of the second half.
Many of his five three-pointers cut short potential UA rallies.
"You watch games and sometimes one team seems to win because they just have an incredible performance by one player and I really thought Ty Abbott was that player," Miller said. "I'm not going to be the coach who acts like we gave him shots. Certainly, we have to do better job … perimeter players on a lot of teams have hurt us, but his performance was terrific. He moves without the ball. He's smart. And they do a great job of getting him the ball."
Abbott did not score in the final 11 minutes, and Arizona made a final run in the final two minutes. MoMo Jones made two free throws and then assisted Williams on a dunk that made it 69-64 with 1:36 left.
But ASU wound down the shot clock on its next possession, leaving UA with 30 seconds. Parrom drew a foul with 23 seconds left and hit both free throws to cut the Sun Devils' lead to 69-66.
However, Glasser was fouled with 22 seconds left and made both of his free throws to expand ASU's lead back to five points. The Sun Devils then coasted after Kyle Fogg turned the ball over on the sideline on the Wildcats' next possession, another painful turnover just after Jones had stepped on the baseline.
They were costly mistakes, certainly, but not ones Miller was going to blame on youth again.
"I came from this area where there was this coach who every time he lost he'd say the team was young," Miller said. "If they won, he would never talk about how young his team was.
"It's not about being young right now. It's just that we lost to the better team. Arizona State should be proud of their team. They did a great job."
• What: Arizona at California
• When: 7 p.m., Thursday
• TV: ESPN
ARIZONA ST. 73, ARIZONA 69
FG FT Reb
ASU Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Boateng 24 2-7 2-5 0-3 3 5 6
Abbott 39 11-17 1-1 0-3 1 3 28
McMillan 20 0-1 0-0 1-3 2 1 0
Glasser 32 3-6 2-3 0-0 6 4 9
Lockett 10 1-3 1-2 1-2 0 3 3
Kuksiks 35 6-8 2-2 1-6 2 1 17
Rohde 16 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 3 2
Walker 4 0-3 0-0 0-1 0 1 0
Shipp 20 3-6 0-0 0-1 1 3 8
Totals 200 27-52 8-13 5-21 15 24 73
Percentages: FG .519, FT .615. 3-Point Goals: 11-20, .550 (Abbott 5-8, Kuksiks 3-3, Shipp 2-3, Glasser 1-4, Walker 0-1, McMillan 0-1). Blocked Shots: 1 (Kuksiks). Turnovers: 7 (Boateng 3, Abbott 3, Rohde). Steals: 4 (Glasser 2, Boateng, Shipp).
FG FT Reb
Arizona Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Williams 32 5-7 5-9 2-5 1 2 15
Horne 28 2-4 0-0 0-3 1 2 5
Parrom 29 1-2 4-5 3-10 4 4 6
NWise 36 5-12 5-7 0-3 3 2 18
Fogg 31 4-10 2-2 0-2 1 0 13
Natyazhko 7 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 1 0
Jones 15 1-1 4-4 0-0 2 0 6
Lavender 6 0-2 2-2 0-2 0 0 2
Hill 16 1-1 2-3 0-1 1 4 4
Totals 200 19-40 24-32 7-29 13 15 69
Percentages: FG .475, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 7-16, .438 (N.Wise 3-5, Fogg 3-6, Horne 1-3, Parrom 0-1, Lavender 0-1). Blocked Shots: 1 (Horne). Turnovers: 12 (Parrom 4, Fogg 3, Jones 2, Hill, N.Wise, Horne). Steals: 2 (Parrom, Horne).
Arizona St. 30 43-73
Arizona 25 44-69