Arizona-Arizona St. Preview
Arizona sits alone atop the Pac-10 and has a chance to inch
closer to its first regular-season conference championship since
2004-05. The Wildcats, though, aren’t taking their matchup with
last-place Arizona State lightly.
Seeking a season-best sixth consecutive win, the 15th-ranked
Wildcats look to avoid a seventh loss in nine games when they visit
the rival Sun Devils on Sunday night.
Lamont Jones continued his impressive play with multiple key
baskets in Arizona’s thrilling 107-105 triple-overtime win Feb. 5
at California, finishing with a career-high 27 points.
While leading scorer Derrick Williams fouled out late in
regulation, Jones forced overtime with a three-point play with 16
seconds remaining, made a tying 3-pointer with seven seconds to go
in the second OT, then scored with just over a minute left in the
third overtime to put the Wildcats (20-4, 9-2) up for good.
“I’ve played like this my whole life,” said Jones, who is
averaging 17.4 points – 7.6 more than his season mark – over his
team’s five-game run. “To other people it might be something new,
but to me it’s just another day in the life of MoMo Jones.
“I said before I came here that when I came here Arizona was
going to get a clutch player. Arizona was going to get a big-time
player. Things take time.”
Williams, named to the Naismith Trophy midseason 30 list Friday,
is averaging 19.6 points but matched a season low with 12 against
the Golden Bears.
Arizona had lost six of seven versus Arizona State prior to an
80-69 home victory Jan. 15 thanks in large part to Williams’ career
high-tying 31 points and 10 rebounds. Williams is averaging 22.0
points in three career games in the series.
The Sun Devils (9-14, 1-10) enter Sunday on a season-worst
seven-game losing streak, but Wildcats coach Sean Miller knows his
team will be in for a challenge and isn’t overlooking the
“I think the furthest thing from the truth is to look at this
game as for us nothing to gain or a trap game or something from
that nature,” Miller said. “I think anyone who really looks at the
game from that perspective doesn’t have a real good feel for the
Pac-10 or both teams.”
Arizona State, mired in its worst skid since losing 15 straight
Dec. 22, 2006-Feb. 15, 2007, is led by Trent Lockett and Ty Abbott,
averaging 14.0 and 13.1 points, respectively.
Abbott finished with three points in an 83-75 loss at Stanford
on Feb. 5 after sitting out the majority of the second half with a
back injury. Abbott, averaging 21.0 points in his last two meetings
with Arizona, is likely to be available Sunday.
The Sun Devils have lost their two matchups – both on the road –
against ranked teams this season by an average of 13.5 points.
They have, however, taken five of their last eight against Top
25 opponents in Tempe.
Coach Herb Sendek’s squad is 0-4 at home in conference games,
with the last three coming by a combined seven points.
Arizona State has lost nine straight versus ranked Wildcats
teams since defeating No. 10 Arizona 88-72 on Jan. 23, 2002.