In a purely dominant 91-75 victory over ASU, No. 16 Arizona men's basketball showcased just how dangerous a team it can be Thursday at McKale Center.
Discipline, execution, size, depth, talent and athleticism were all areas in which the Wildcats (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) were miles ahead of the Sun Devils (9-9, 2-3 Pac-12).
From the outset, Arizona pounded the boards and scored with ease, jumping out to a 12-0 lead in points and 10-0 lead in rebounds. ASU had no answer for the size disadvantage they faced — especially when the Wildcats' big men stepped outside and stretched the floor.
Foremost in displaying that versatility was freshman forward Lauri Markkanen, who put up a career-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting to go along with 8 rebounds. Senior forward Obi Oleka led the way for the Sun Devils with a career-high 22 points and 9 rebounds.
Whether it was lob dunks, a flurry of three-pointers or stifling defense, Arizona put on a show in the first half en route to a 45-25 lead at the half. At that stage, ASU was 0-for-9 from behind the arc while the Wildcats shot 5-of-10.
The Sun Devils attempted to claw back into the game via the three-ball as the second half got started, but even a 10-for-18 showing from three in the second half wasn't enough to get within single digits. The only time Arizona didn't lead in this game was the first 15 seconds, when it was tied 0-0.
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 38-22, held a 25-15 advantage in assists and scored 19 second chance points. ASU will have a second chance of its own on Saturday, March 4th, in Tempe when it aims for revenge against its rival.
For now, though, Arizona can revel in its dominance over a Sun Devil team that appears to be headed in the opposite direction of its counterparts from the south. How much farther apart these two teams are by their next duel remains to be seen, but the road doesn't get any easier for ASU. Next up is a pair of road games at No. 4 UCLA and No. 25 USC.
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