Rawle Alkins posted his second career double-double and Arizona clamped down defensively in the second half to clinch a share of the Pac-12 regular-season title by beating ASU 73-60 today at Wells Fargo Arena.
Leading just 30-29 at halftime, Arizona kept ASU scoreless for the first 3:16 of the second half and limited the Sun Devils to just 28.6 percent shooting in the second half while taking leads of up to 16 points.
The Wildcats also clobbered ASU on the glass, outrebounding them 50-27 overall and keeping ASU to just three offensive rebounds. UA had 13 offensive rebounds, leading to 14 second-chance points.
The win moved UA to 27-4 overall and gave them at least a share of the Pac-12 title, the Wildcats’ fourth outright or shared title in eight seasons under coach Sean Miller.
The Wildcats will find out later this afternoon if they will share or win the title outright depending on what happens in Corvallis, Ore. If Oregon wins as expected, the Wildcats will finish regular-season play tied with Oregon at 16-2 atop the Pac-12 and receive the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.
As the No. 2 seed, UA would play the winner of a No. 7-vs.No. 10 game on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Las Vegas.
If Oregon happens to lose at OSU, Arizona would win the league outright and be the No. 1 seed, playing instead Thursday at 1 p.m.
ASU dropped to 14-17 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils were led by Torian Graham, who had 15 points.
Allonzo Trier led UA in scoring with 19 points while Alkins had 11 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and Lauri Markkanen had 10 points and nine rebounds. While Markkanen’s shooting continued to lag – he missed all five 3-pointers he took, some of them badly -- he blocked two shots in the second half to add to a UA defense that kept held the Sun Devils under 30 percent shooting for the first 15 minutes of the half.
In the first half, Arizona shot just 34.4 percent and made only 2 of 10 3-pointers while ASU shot 41.7 percent and made 4 of 11 three pointers. ASU entered Saturday’s game averaging the second-most 3-pointers in conference play, an average of 10.1 per game.
ASU didn't hit a single 3 during the first eight minutes of the game, when UA took leads of up to nine points but pulled back in the game in part with its perimeter shooting.
The Sun Devils' fourth 3-pointer of the first half, by Torian Graham gave ASU its first lead of the game, 26-25, with 3:51 left.
Miller called a timeout after Graham’s 3, with the Wildcats struggling on both sides of the ball at times. UA was shooting just 37 percent overall at that point and made just 2 of 9 3-pointers.
What’s more, Markkanen picked up two fouls within the first four minutes of the game and was 0 for 3 from the field in the half, making 1 of 2 free throws for his only scoring.
While UA's early defense was successful against ASU, the Sun Devils' Tra Holder and Kodi Justice made 3s in the middle of the half to help ASU pull within 18-17 before Parker Jackson-Cartwright hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to give UA a 21-18 lead with 7:30 left. The game stayed close for the rest of the first half, until UA pulled ahead in the second.