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

conference foe.

“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.