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

team.

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

good.”

”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

all season.

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

next week.”

”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

round.

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

said.

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.”