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Sun Devils fall to in-state rival Wildcats, 71-54

January 22, 2013

The Arizona State men's basketball team (14-4; 3-2) was unable to stop the seventh ranked University of Arizona Wildcats (16-1; 4-1) Saturday afternoon, falling 71-54, in the Territorial Cup matchup at Wells Fargo Arena in front of a crowd of 10,900.

Despite Jahii Carson's eighth 20-point performance of his young career, the Sun Devils could not keep up with Arizona, and fell to 14-4 on the season and 3-2 in Pac-12 play. Carson led ASU with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Evan Gordon was the only other Sun Devil to score in double digits, recording 14 points. ASU finished the afternoon shooting a 39.1 percent clip from the field on 18-of-46 shooting.

Arizona State was unable to establish an inside presence, being outrebounded 33-27, and giving up 10 second-chance points, while getting none. Arizona also scored 32 points in the paint compared to 18 for the Sun Devils. The Wildcats forced 17 Sun Devil turnovers, and scored 18 points off Sun Devil miscues. Arizona also had eight more shot opportunities than the Sun Devils.

Arizona meanwhile improves its record to 16-1, and 4-1 in the Pac-12. Mark Lyons matched a season high 24 points to lead the Wildcats. Nick Johnson followed with 19 and Solomon Hill added 13 points. The Wildcats caught fire in the second half, shooting 46.3 percent from the floor in the game, including a 56.0 clip in the second half to erase their struggles in the first half.

Both squads came out of the gates strong, trading buckets into the second official timeout, with the score being tied, 14-14. There were three ties and six lead changes in the opening part of the game. Arizona State's offense primarily went through Gordon and Carson, who had seven and six points respectively.

After Carrick Felix was tagged with a technical foul, which resulted in three quick points for the Wildcats, ASU put together a 6-0 run that lasted two minutes, in which it held Arizona to 0-4 from the field, forcing an Arizona timeout, trailing the Sun Devils 20-17, with 9:13 remaining in the first half.

The Sun Devils could not extend their lead, however, and Arizona retook the lead, 23-22, at the final official timeout of the opening half. The Wildcats held Arizona State scoreless for over four minutes late in the half, but could only muster six points of their own in the same stretch.

Arizona rallied to take a seven-point lead with 1:50 left in the half, but the Sun Devils scored the final four points of the half, trailing 29-26 at the break. Carson and Gordon were the top scorers in the first half, tallying 12 and 11 points. Carson was able to get to the free throw line, converting six of his seven opportunities, but finished the half with three fouls.

ASU held a slight shooting advantage in the first half, recording a 39.1 percent clip on 9-23 shooting. However the Sun Devils had fewer opportunities in the half, taking six less shots than the Wildcats. Arizona State also could not take advantage of opportunities beyond the arc, converting only one of seven attempts.

For the Wildcats in the first half, Lyons and Johnson led the way, each scoring nine points. Arizona shot 37.5 percent on 11-29 shooting from the field in the first half, and made three-of-eight from distance.

The Sun Devils started the second half sloppy on the offensive side of the ball, committing four turnovers and shooting poorly. Arizona took advantage of its defensive pressure to take a lead at the first official timeout in the second half, 40-33, with Johnson being responsible for most of the damage, scoring six points for the Wildcats in transition.

Sparked by Jonathan Gilling's first three of the afternoon, the Sun Devils chipped away at their deficit, using a 7-0 run to pull within two points, 44-42, with 10:53 left in the second half.

The Sun Devils were unable to draw any closer, however, and the Wildcats gained their first double-digit lead, 55-44, as a result of an 11-2 run that lasted 3:04. Arizona State called a timeout with 7:40 remaining in the game hoping to find offensive rhythm and stall Arizona's momentum.

The Wildcats continued to pull away in the final minutes of the game, leading 63-50, at the final official timeout. Arizona took advantage of second chance points as well as points in the paint to create separation from the Sun Devils, and secure a road win.

The Sun Devils will look to get back in the win column at home this week, hosting USC on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (MT) for the tilt against the Trojans.