Arizona State was undefeated at home in conference play, they were off to one of their best starts in the Pac 12 and they had a chance to upset their rival Arizona in their own building but they let a golden chance slip away. No. 7 Arizona slowly but surely wore the Sun Devils down and won going away 71-54 to improve to 16-1 (4-1 in Pac 12).
The main factor in the Wildcats win over their rival? Stout defense.
Arizona had a great gameplan going into the game today and its main goal was to make the Sun Devils a one-player team. You would think that Arizona would target Jahii Carson but they focused their defensive efforts instead on Carrick Felix. With the defense focused on Felix, Carson was able to go off for 22 points but besides his output the Sun Devils only had one other starter in double-figures.
As for Felix he was held to just five points on 1-8 shooting, including just 1-7 behind the three point line. Arizona State was lost as their best player was shut down. Their offensive flow was nonexistent and time after time Arizona forced them into tough, desperation attempts as the shot clock wound down. The poor shots led to run-outs for the Wildcats and they strung together a late 11-0 run that eventually put the game out of reach. All in all the Wildcats held ASU to just 39% from the field and just 5-20 beyond the arc.
Give the credit to Arizona as they executed their gameplan to perfection and it eventually proved to be too much for ASU. Arizona has been in some tight games so far this season, especially in their conference games, but they asserted themselves late and ran away with their fourth Pac 12 win.
Arizona State is a solid team but they’re not on the level of their rival just yet.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Basketball writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.