No. 7 Arizona looks for sharper shooting vs. ASU
Arizona rarely displays subpar offensive showings, but the last time the Wildcats faced Arizona State, they couldn't buy a basket.
No. 7 Arizona seeks a fourth straight win and hopes to produce a better offensive showing Monday night in Tempe against the Sun Devils, who are coming off a wild triple-overtime win over No. 3 UCLA.
Arizona (19-2, 9-1 Pac-12) rates third in the nation in scoring (84.9 points per game) and shoots a league-best 48 percent. The Wildcats have won their past three games, a stretch that began Jan. 29 with a 67-56 win over Arizona State in Tucson. But in that game, they made just 32.2 percent of their shots - including a sad 13 percent from 3-point range (3-for-23).
The Wildcats since then beat UCLA and USC, when they shot well (47.6% over the two games) and defended exceptionally well (allowing the ranked Bruins and Trojans just 36.6% shooting).
Arizona, it should be noted, also leads the conference in defense, allowing 64.5 points a game, and it's that ability to shut down opponents that coach Tommy Lloyd says it the key to the team's success.
"I think we can win a lot of ways," Lloyd said. "We're a great defensive team. Certain nights you're explosive on offense, but obviously that's gonna be tough to do that every single day. But we're more than comfortable being in games like that. We'll run opportunistically and we're gonna keep pushing the pace."
In Saturday's 72-63 win over USC, Azuolas Tubelis led the Wildcats with 18 points while Kerr Kriisa added 13. Both players were neutralized by Arizona State, when they finished with six points apiece.
The Sun Devils (7-13, 3-7) are coming off their best performance of the season when they outlasted UCLA for a wild 87-84 triple-overtime victory on Saturday night.
"We were fortunate to have something left in the tank in that third overtime and made some big shots," Arizona State Bobby Hurley said. "It was very rewarding. I felt good for the kids. We've been playing really well the last couple of weeks and just haven't been able to break through with a victory."
Arizona State snapped a four-game losing streak when it hit 11 3-pointers against the Bruins.
Marreon Jackson, who had managed eight points combined the two previous games, scored a season-high 24 points on 7 of 18 shooting. Jalen Graham followed up a 19-point showing against USC by producing 16 and 10 rebounds against UCLA.
The Sun Devils' balance was impressive, as six players scored in double figures.
Arizona won last year in Tempe, 84-82, when Tubelis hit a tip-in at the buzzer. The previous year, ASU overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to win, 66-65.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2022