TEMPE, AZ – Despite blowing a 17-point lead, No. 5 Arizona Basketball (13-1, 2-1) came away with the 69-60 win over Arizona State (11-3, 2-1).
Returning to the hardwood after a brief holiday break, No. 5 Arizona Basketball traveled to Tempe for what was a huge battle between in-state rivals.
Facing a bit of a tougher challenge than they have in recent weeks, Arizona was dominant early, but as ASU turned up the intensity in the second half, this one got a bit too close for comfort.
Despite scoring 45 points, building a 17-point lead, and shooting 48.1 percent from the field including 41.7 percent from three, the Wildcats survived a strong second-half surge by the Sun Devils to come away with the 69-60 win.
Azuolas Tubelis led the way as the junior forward finished with 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds while shooing 7-14 from the field.
Oumar Ballo and Kerr Kriisa finished their days with a respectable 12 points each. Ballo grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, while Kerr went 6-7 from the charity stripe.
Despite a strong second half for Arizona State, No. 5 Arizona Basketball was able to hold on to earn the big win.
Arizona may have dominated in the first half, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Wildcats got their best shot from Arizona State to begin the second half.
Doing it on both ends of the floor to build a 17-point first-half lead, Arizona State opened the second by outscoring the Wildcats 19-4 over the first 6:54 to play.
Luckily, the Wildcats’ offense finally responded in a big way, using a 10-3 run over the next four-plus minutes of gameplay to push their lead back up to nine.
Continuing to find their rhythm, Arizona would eventually extend its lead to 11, but a competitive showing by ASU kept this one close until the final whistle.
Luckily, Arizona was able to close out the game with poise, earning the hard-fought, 69-60 win over the host Sun Devils!
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 13-1 (2-1) on the season and will resume basketball action next Thursday when they welcome Pac-12 foe Washington to town. Arizona will follow that game with a Saturday showdown against Washington State. Tip-off for Thursday’s game against the Huskies is set for 9:00 PM MST.