No. 8 Wildcats blow out Sun Devils 73-49Posted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 13 points and eight rebounds, and No. 8 Arizona opened the Pac-12 season with a 73-49 rout over Arizona State on Sunday night.
Arizona (12-1) was sharp after an extended break, dominating Arizona State at both ends to quickly turn its rivalry game into a runaway.
The Wildcats took control with a big early run while building a 20-point halftime lead and kept the pressure up to get their conference season off to a rousing start.
Arizona had a rare good night from the free-throw line, making 16 of 19, and shot 51 percent despite a sloppy second half. Brandon Ashley and Stanley Johnson scored 13 points each.
Arizona State (8-6) beat then-No. 2 Arizona in Tempe last season, but had no chance at repeating the upset after finishing with more turnovers (22) than field goals (14).
Gerry Blakes had nine points to lead the Sun Devils, who shot 32 percent.
Arizona won its first 12 games before a surprising loss at UNLV on Dec. 23, ending a 39-game nonconference winning streak.
Coach Sean Miller spent the 11 days between game honing the Wildcats' focus and working on their problems areas, namely offensive rebounding and free-throw shooting.
Arizona State coach Herb Sendek shifted his team's momentum by shuffling his lineup.
Coming off a triple-overtime home loss to Lehigh, Sendek put Savon Goodman and Roosevelt Scott in the starting lineup and shifted Blakes to point guard. The Sun Devils followed with two of their most impressive victories of the season, beating Detroit by 39 and Harvard by 10.
Miller also shifted his lineup open the conference season, starting Hollis-Jefferson and Elliott Pitts over Johnson and Gabe York.
The change seemed to help Arizona's shooting, particularly from the perimeter early.
The Wildcats took their first five shots from the 3-point line and made four, with Hollis-Jefferson adding three free throws after being fouled on another.
Arizona was just as sharp defensively and raced away from Arizona State with a 15-1 run to go up 21-8.
Arizona State had trouble just getting into its offense, some of it from Arizona's pressure, but also because of sloppiness.
The Sun Devils had eight field goals (on 21 shots) and 13 turnovers in the first half.
Arizona hit 17 of 29 shots and led 45-25 behind Johnson's 13 points.
Arizona wasn't nearly as efficient offensively in the second half, but neither was Arizona State.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils have not won a road game against a top-10 opponent since beating No. 9 UCLA 61-58 in overtime in 2009. ... Goodman struggled with foul trouble all night and missed all three of his shots, finishing with two points.
Arizona: The Wildcats played their first home game since Dec. 16. ... Arizona shot 9 of 22 from the field in the second half.
Arizona State plays at Oregon State on Thursday.
Arizona is at Oregon on Thursday.
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