ASU Defeated By No. 1 Arizona

by Brian Gomez, thesundevils.com

Head coach Rob Evans has said all season that his players shouldn't treat a single game as being any bigger than the next.

If that's indeed the case, one of his main principles for success needs to hold true now more than ever after the Arizona State men's basketball team sustained a 92-72 loss to No. 1-ranked Arizona before a capacity crowd of 14,421 on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

'Our goals are still ahead of us,' said Evans, whose team will attempt to solidify an NCAA Tournament berth next week during a trip to the Bay Area schools, which are locked in a tie for second place in the Pac-10. 'I like this team. They will continue to work and they will win some ball games.'

Even with the loss, the Sun Devils (17-8, 9-5 Pac-10) managed to maintain their hold on fourth place in the conference as a result of Washington's 78-66 upset win against Oregon. But they dropped two games behind Stanford and California with only four left before the Pac-10 Tournament.

'The goals we set at the beginning of the season are still achievable,' said ASU freshman forward Ike Diogu, who marked his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes. 'This game doesn't indicate where we stand as a team. I don't think this game indicates the level we're at because we played below our level today.'

The Sun Devils successfully countered UA's zone defense early in the first half thanks to junior swingman Jamal Hill's hot shooting from the outside. Hill tallied 11 of his 12 points in the opening 11 minutes on the strength of a trio of three-pointers and a soft jumper over UA sophomore center Channing Frye.

'I just tried to come in and be ready because I know the last time I didn't play well at all,' Hill said. 'Coach needed me and I wasn't there for him, so I just tried to play a lot better.'

For the first 17 minutes of the first half, ASU stayed neck and neck with its archrival, which was only a four-point favorite heading into the state's most anticipated college basketball game of the season. But then things slowly began to unravel.

Senior forward Luke Walton laid in a bucket, Frye scored on a kick-out from Walton and sophomore guard Salim Stoudamire converted a three-point play. Then Walton hit a shot from beyond the arc after Hill had a three-pointer blocked by freshman forward Andre Iguodala and Stoudamire scored on a floater with only six seconds remaining before intermission.

By the time the horrid stretch was over, the Sun Devils trailed 51-43 heading into the locker room.

'It was just a lack of defense,' said ASU senior guard Curtis Millage, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field, including a 1-for-6 effort from three-point range. 'They got it down low and they got it outside. They got their jump shot going and they also packed it up on defense.'

The Wildcats (21-2, 13-1) picked up right where they left off after the break with six unanswered points that nearly doubled their halftime lead. Frye and Walton each scored on lay-ins and senior forward Rick Anderson buried a turnaround in the lane.

The Sun Devils twice cut the deficit to 12 points, but they never got over the hump against a team that shot 57.4 percent (35-for-61) from the field and received solid contributions across the board. Three Wildcats finished with double-doubles, as Walton had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Anderson recorded 19 points and 12 boards and Frye tossed in 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

'Both teams played very, very hard and the difference was that we made shots and they missed opportunities,' UA head coach Lute Olson said. 'I've never had a team with three guys who had double-doubles in the same night before, in the whole front line. We're very happy with the team effort.'

Smith paced ASU with a season-high 18 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. It was the most he had scored since Feb. 28, 2002 when he posted 22 points in ASU's 91-80 home loss to California.

The Sun Devils struggled from nearly everywhere, shooting 39.1 percent (27-for-69) from the floor, 20.8 percent (5-for-24) from three-point range and 56.5 percent (13-for-23) at the charity stripe. They turned the ball over only eight times, but they were outrebounded 43-32.

'We knew to be able to win the ball game, we had to neutralize them on the glass, but they just whipped us on the glass,' Evans said. 'Any time you're going against a zone, you've got to knock down shots and we didn't knock down enough shots early on.'

GAME NOTES: The Wildcats lead the all-time series 130-73...they have won 16 of the last 17 meetings between the schools...ASU is 1-7 all-time against top-ranked teams in the Associated Press Poll...Sun Devil senior point guard Kyle Dodd has turned the ball over just nine times in the past 15 games (274 minutes). He didn't commit a single turnover Saturday and he had a team-high six assists to give him 270 assists and 100 turnovers in his 115-game career...Millage is 37-for-45 (82.2 percent) from the free-throw line in his past nine outings...Diogu has scored in double figures in all 25 games this year...after the game, Evans thanked the student section for its loyal support.

UP NEXT: ASU is scheduled to face Stanford at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MST Thursday, before playing California at 12:30 p.m. PT/1:30 p.m. MST Sunday. The Stanford game will not be televised locally, but the California game can be seen on Fox Sports Net.

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu.

By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. - Luke Walton scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed10 rebounds and No. 1-ranked Arizona used a 24-5 run late in the first half andearly in the second to beat Arizona State 92-72 on Saturday night.

The Arizona win came in front of the fourth-largest crowd ever at Arizona State.It was the first time the Sun Devils have hosted a top-ranked opponent.

Channing Frye, coming off a career-best 25 points against USC last Saturday,also scored 23, 17 in the first half for the Wildcats (21-2, 13-1 Pac-10). The6-foot-10 sophomore from nearby Phoenix was 9-for-11 from the field and grabbed10 rebounds.

Rick Anderson tied his career high with 19 points and had a season-best 12rebounds as Arizona dominated the boards 43-32.

The Sun Devils (17-8, 9-5) had won four in a row to lure a crowd of 14,421,including 300 standing room only, the largest at Wells Fargo Arena in 23 years.

But they couldn't stay with the deep, talented Wildcats, who shot 57 percentin one of their best games of the season.

Walton, whose senior season has been slowed by ankle injuries, scored 10 inthe 24-5 outburst.

Tommy Smith scored a season-high 18 for Arizona State. Freshman sensationIke Diogu, who has reached double figures in scoring in every game this season,added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Curtis Millage had 14 points, but shot just5-of-16. Jerome Hill scored 12, but only one in the second half.

Arizona made 19 of 20 free throws, compared with 13-of-23 from ArizonaState.

The Wildcats outscored Arizona State 12-4 in the final 2* minutes of thefirst half to go up 51-43 at the break, then went 12-1 to start the secondhalf. When Jason Gardner, who had eight points - all in the second half - and10 assists, punctuated the run with a 10-foot faeaway jumper from the baseline,Arizona led 63-44 with 14:28 to play.

Arizona State never got closer than 11 again.

Arizona shot 63 percent in the first half (20-for-32), to Arizona State's 46percent (16-for-35). The Sun Devils shot just 39 percent for the game.

Frye made 5-of-6 field goal tries and was 5-for-5 at the foul line for his17 first-half points, one shy of the number he scored in the first half in hisprevious game.

Hill was Arizona State's top offensive weapon with 11 points on 4-of-6shooting, but was 0-for-3 in the second half.

Arizona shot out to a 10-2 lead but Arizona State came back to tie it at17-17 on Kyle Dodd's 3-pointer with 12:11 to play in the half. Smith's thirdconsecutive basket gave the Sun Devils their first lead at 28-27, and whenSmith made one of two free throws with 5:26 left before halftime, Arizona Stateled 31-29.

The game was tied five more times before Arizona's late first-half run.

Arizona State played a No. 1 team for the eighth time, and its only victorywas at Oregon State in the final game of the 1980-81 season.

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