TEMPE, AZ – It might have been played in an empty Desert Financial Arena nonetheless, Arizona Basketball provided plenty of sparks in their 84-82 win over ASU.
James Akinjo finished with 24 points on 8-17 (5-9) shooting, and Ben Mathurin and Dalen Terry each had 13 points, however, that was all overshadowed by Azoulas Tubelis, as the ‘Lithuanian Lefty’ hit the game-winner as time expired to deliver the 84-82 win for Arizona Basketball over ASU.
Even in the Covid-era of College Basketball with no fans, Arizona and ASU were still able to provide a thrilling game in front of a nationally televised audience.
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It wasn’t one of the Wildcats’ prettier performances, however, it was still a win. And in a year that is focused more on development for the Wildcats, there was still a sense of normalcy on Thursday evening, as Sean Miller and Arizona beat ASU in basketball yet again.
Coming into the year, the Sun Devils were seen as a dark horse favorite to not only win the Pac-12 but perhaps even make an unprecedented run deep into March. But after the loss on Thursday evening, the Sun Devils drop to 4-7 (1-4) on the year and sit in 11th place in the Pac-12.
Despite an early, 11-point lead for the Wildcats, the Sun Devils clawed their way back into this one, even dominating the foul line as they outshot the Wildcats 29-17.
Things would even look damning in crunch time when ASU freshman Joshua Christopher drilled a three-pointer to put ASU up 82-77 with 2:22 to play. The star freshman finished with 18 points.
However, just as they have continued to do this year, the Wildcats fought back, taking this one down to the wire.
Needing key, defensive stops, and timely buckets, Arizona delivered. Akinjo made his fifth three-pointer of the game, Terrell Brown made two clutch free-throws, and Tubelis hit the game-winner tip-in as time expired. Ball game.
The team that entered the year with so much hype, fell victim to being the ones with the target on their back for once. And just as it has gone all year for the Sun Devils, the team couldn’t make the key plays they needed in crunch time, nor can they seemingly handle the spotlight.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 11-3 (5-3) on the year and will return to action on Monday night, looking for the sweep against the Sun Devils.
Listen to coach Miller following the teams’ thrilling win!
At Zona Zealots, we’re glad that the Wildcats were able to come away with the victory. Now the focus turns to Monday, as Arizona looks to go for the sweep over ASU. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!