No. 3 ASU men's basketball runs out of gas, falls to No. 17 Arizona on the road, 84-78

Deandre Ayton starred with 23 points and 19 rebounds to anchor Arizona's win over ASU Saturday night

The matchup between No. 3 ASU vs No. 17 Arizona lived up to the hype and expectation Saturday night in Tucson, giving fans a combination of frustration, excitement and nervousness. However, it was the Wildcats who were able to outlast the Sun Devils and win 84-78 to give them their first loss of the season. 

“We scrambled, we tried to press and I thought we created some turnovers there and figured out a way to scrap and give ourselves a chance to win,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said after the game. “We didn’t play our best offensive game but a lot of the credit goes to Arizona and their game plan and their desire to defend.”

Arizona (11-3) are winners of eight straight and continues its domination of ASU (12-1) at home – winners of 18 of the last 21 head-to-head matchups dating back two decades.

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton is viewed as a very high draft pick in this year’s NBA draft, and he certainly played like it against ASU on Saturday. The freshman finished with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Hurley said his team gave him too much cushion in the post.

“Ayton is a handful,” Hurley said. “What he does is pretty special with the numbers he put up. But I thought Trier played like a guy that is at the top of the league in terms of his ability with his drive their late in the second half.” 

Allonzo Trier added 23 points for Arizona, 18 in the second half after starting the game slow. He leads the Wildcats in scoring with 21.2 points per game

If there was one player who kept ASU in the game, however, it was Tra Holder. Time and time again he has come up huge for ASU against ranked opponents this season – he dropped 40 points against Xavier and 29 points against Kansas. 

He finished with a game high 31 points and made 15-of-16 free throws. 

“I always thought we were in the game even when we were down 12,” Holder said. “We didn’t hit shots we normally hit today but, you know, that’s how basketball is.”

Another slow start hampered ASU early, especially after an and-1 to sophomore Rawle Alkins gave Arizona the early 9-3 lead and got the McKale Center on its feet. ASU head coach Bobby Hurley, however, went to freshman guard Remy Martin, who broke the Sun Devils out of their slow start and scored seven early points to get them back into the game. 

Martin set the tone on both ends of the court. He came up with a steal and turned it into a breakaway dunk in one possession. The very next possession he knocked down a three to tie the game at 12 with 13:25 left in the half. 

The half remained close, which included six lead changes. When it appeared that ASU would pull away after a 7-2 run put them ahead 35-30, Arizona head coach Sean Miller leaned on Allonzo Trier to get his side back into the game. 

Trier started the game 0-for-6, but nailed a three and a pair of free throws to give Arizona the 37-35 lead with 59 seconds left in the first half. The Sun Devils would not lead again from that point moving forward.

The momentum kept changing in the second half; every time the Wildcats went on a run to extend its lead, ASU answered with a run of their own to cut it. They came as close as two. 

Arizona used a 12-2 run anchored by two and-1 dunks from Ayton to give them the 52-41 lead at the 15 minute mark. ASU then used a 9-0 run, led by a Holder three and pair of free throws, to cut the lead to three, 62-59, with 8:29 left. 

The game would be decided in the last two minutes of the game. An ASU offensive rebound led to a three from senior guard Kodi Justice to bring the Sun Devils within two, 78-76, with 1:19 remaining in the game.

But Trier knocked down all four of his free throws and ASU was unable to knock down clutch shots in the closing seconds to complete the comeback. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @felipecorraljr on Twitter.  

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