Arizona St. 87, Arizona 80
Arizona’s chances for an at-large NCAA tournament berth were
hanging on the rim before the Wildcats faced rival Arizona State on
Sunday. The Sun Devils’ 87-80 upset could well have doomed that
possibility once and for all.
Danish freshman Jonathan Gilling scored a career-high 21 points
and shot 5 of 6 from 3-point range, and Arizona State overwhelmed
Arizona’s usually stout defense with a 49-point second half.
Carrick Felix scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half for
the Sun Devils (10-20, 6-12 Pac-12), who finished the game with six
free throws in the final 30.9 seconds, four of them by Trent
Lockett, who also scored 21. Jordan Bachynski had 11 points and
blocked six shots for Arizona State.
Kyle Fogg had 23 points for the Wildcats (21-10, 12-6) but was 7
of 17 shooting. Arizona’s Brendon Lavender matched his career best
with 18 points on 6 of 8 3-point shooting. Solomon Hill scored 16
points and Jesse Perry 15 for Arizona.
The final seven-point margin was the biggest lead for either
The Wildcats probably have to win the Pac-12 tournament to make
the NCAA field.
”We’re not good enough to be an NCAA tournament team right
now,” Wildcats coach Sean Miller said. ”That’s not to say that
we’ve waved the white or we’re not going to L.A. to try to win the
tournament. We have a bye for a reason.”
But to make the NCAA field, Miller said, ”you have to be
”There’s a lot of teams fighting for the same thing as us,” he
said, ”and what they do is they go on the road in a game like
today and they leave with the win. You have to earn your way into
the tournament. There are no politics.”
Hill called it the toughest loss of the season.
”It really just popped the bubble,” he said.
The Sun Devils did so many things well that they had done poorly
They had shot 45 percent from the field and 67 percent from the
free-throw line entering the game, then made 56 percent from the
floor on Sunday, 60 percent (15 of 25) in outscoring the Wildcats
49-36 in the second half. Arizona State made 22 of 24 free throws,
with Lockett going 8 for 8 and Felix 8 for 9.
”That was huge,” Lockett said. ”Free throws have plagued us
throughout the season, the way we shoot the ball. But today
everybody got to the line, with confidence knocked them down, and
that probably won the game for us.”
Felix said the victory ”gives us a lot of momentum going into
”It also shows how much the guys are improving,” he said,
”like JB (Bachynski) and Jon, from the start of the season.”
Gilling banked in a 3-pointer on his first attempt.
”I meant to do it,” he joked.
But the rest of his baskets went in smoothly.
”I was just wide open,” he said, ”and, well, sometimes you
knock them down, right?”
The game had no bearing on the matchups in the Pac-12
tournament. Arizona State plays Stanford in the first round on
Wednesday. Arizona has a first-round bye as the No. 4 seed and will
play the winner of the UCLA-USC game in Thursday’s second
Arizona State led 78-74 when Lockett tipped in his miss with
2:05 to play. But Chris Colvin fouled Fogg on a 3-point attempt,
and the Arizona senior made all three free throws to cut the lead
to 78-77 with 1:44 to play.
Gilling, who banked in a 3-pointer on his first shot of the
afternoon, sank his final 3 with 57 seconds left to give the Sun
Devils an 81-77 advantage. Fogg drove the lane for a three-point
play to make it 81-80 with 51 seconds to go, but the Wildcats
couldn’t score again.
Lockett made two free throws with 31 seconds to play and two
more with 20 seconds left to boost the lead to 85-80. Felix’s two
from the line with six seconds left finished off the scoring.
”We could pass around superlatives to everybody who contributed
and played this afternoon,” Arizona State coach Herb Sendek
Arizona’s 8-2 spurt to end the first half put the Wildcats up
44-38 at the break, their biggest lead of the game.
Arizona State opened the second half with a 7-0 run, the last
five points by Felix, to regain the lead 45-44. Fogg followed with
a 3-pointer, and it was back and forth from there.
Wildcats freshmen Turner and Nick Johnson were a combined 2 of
11 shooting with seven turnovers.
Arizona State, plagued by turnovers all season, committed only
10 to Arizona’s 14, just the second time this season that the Sun
Devils had fewer turnovers than their opponent.
”You could make the argument through 17 (conference) games
we’ve been the Pac-12’s best defensive team statistically,” Miller
said, ”and today, Arizona State got 87 on us.”