Sun Devils End Drought With No. 10 Wildcats, 88-72
Jan. 23, 2002
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. - There was no miracle comeback for Arizona this time, noteven close.
'We came out and stunk up the court,' Arizona's Luke Walton said.
The Sun Devils (11-7, 4-5 Pac-10), who shot 54 percent, beat a nationallyranked opponent for the first time in 24 tries in coach Rob Evans' fourseasons. They were 0-12 against Arizona - 0-6 under Evans - since sweeping theWildcats in 1995.
The victory was especially sweet for the Arizona State seniors, includingPrewitt. He notched his Pac-10 leading 10th 20-point game of the season.
'Not beating them for three years, and the way we got beat a couple oftimes it just makes you sick,' Prewitt said. 'It was good to go out and justget one.'
Prewitt also went over the 1,000-point mark in his career with his 22 points, as he now has 1,003.
Arizona (13-5, 6-3) had rallied from 21 points down to beat Oregon State and20 down to beat UCLA, but those comebacks were in Tucson. The Wildcats couldn'tpull it off in the hostile atmosphere of Wells Fargo Arena, which was filled tonear-capacity (13,581).
'You play with fire, you're going to get burned,' Arizona coach Lute Olsonsaid. 'This was a case where Arizona State just outplayed us in every facet ofthe game. You can't expect miracles. You've got to make things happen.'
Arizona State led by 17 points in the first half and 20 in the second. TheWildcats never got closer than 11 after that.
'We couldn't put together one of those Arizona runs,' Walton said, 'butwe shouldn't have to do that every single game. We've had to rely on that toomuch this year.'
Walton scored 26 points and Jason Gardner had 16 for Arizona, which had wona season-best five straight. Walton also had 10 rebounds and six assists, butcommitted seven of the Wildcats' 19 turnovers. Arizona State outreboundedArizona 39-29.
Olson praised Walton, but not the team's two other juniors, Gardner and RickAnderson.
'For us to be successful we have to come out of every game and say `Ourthree juniors really did a job and we got good support from some freshmen,''Olson said. 'Other than Luke Walton tonight, I don't think we had a good gameout of the juniors.'
The Wildcats were just 2-for-16 from 3-point range and missed nine freethrows.
Arizona State beat Oregon earlier this season, but the Ducks weren't rankedat the time. The Sun Devils had near-misses last week at home against UCLA andUSC.
'This is a nice win for us,' Evans said, 'but we're not going to docartwheels over it because we've got a lot of work to do, but we're gettingthere.'
The Sun Devils never were in serious trouble after a 20-3 run gave them a40-23 lead on Millage's 3-pointer with 2:26 left in the half. They led 46-31 athalftime.
It was the same 15-point margin that UCLA had at halftime Saturday againstArizona before losing 96-86.
As the Bruins had done, the Sun Devils boosted the lead to 20, going up61-41 on Millage's 3-pointer with 14:36 remaining.
Arizona cut the lead to 77-65 on Gardner's drive with 4:31 to play. Braxtonmissed two free throws, but Prewitt rebounded the second and was fouled. Hemade both free throws to boost the lead to 79-65 with 3:50 remaining.
Will Bynum's driving layup cut it to 79-68 with 2:46 to go, but Kyle Dodd'stwo free throws with 2:19 left made it 81-68, then Smith sealed it with anuncontested stuff 1:57 from the finish.
The victory-starved students rushed the court when the final buzzer sounded.
The Sun Devils shot 54 percent in the first half, compared with Arizona's 41percent. The Wildcats were 10-for-16 from the foul line in the first half withWalton going 1-for-5.
In all, the Sun Devils had lost 26 straight to ranked teams. It marked the first time since 1995 that the Sun Devils had beaten a ranked team in Wells Fargo Arena. It also marked ASU's first win over a top-10 team since No. 15 ASU beat ninth-ranked Arizona 53-52 on Jan. 5, 1995.
GAME NOTES: The win was the biggest over Arizona since an 82-56 win in 1982...UA entered the game second in the Ratings Percentage Index...ASU is now 24-3 under Evans when it shoots 50 percent...eight Sun Devils posted at least one assist, as Prewitt led ASU with six...ASU is now 11-1 when it leads at the half.