Arizona Basketball

No. 1 Arizona Wildcats improve to 18-0 with victory over ASU


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Nick Johnson celebrates on the bench with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson late in Arizona's win over ASU (Fox Sports 1 Video Capture)

Nick Johnson celebrates on the bench with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson late in Arizona’s win over ASU (Fox Sports 1 Video Capture)

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Arizona will have a week off to recuperate and work on improvements after looking near-perfect in an 18-0 start, including 5-0 in the Pac-12, following a convincing 91-68 win over ASU at McKale Center Thursday night.

The Wildcats’ next chance to defend their No. 1 ranking is Thursday against Colorado at McKale Center. With the win over the Sun Devils, Arizona will likely be ranked No. 1 for seven consecutive weeks, a school record, on Monday. Arizona is 9-0 since its No. 1 ranking on Dec. 9. The previous best streak as a No. 1 team was seven wins in 2002-03.

The Sun Devils played without injured guard Jermaine Marshall, a Penn State transfer who is averaging 15.6 points a game. Marshall did not play because of a groin injury.

Arizona’s Nick Johnson, who led the Wildcats with 17 points, rested the last few minutes of the game with a large ice pack on his left ankle. Gabe York rested an ankle sprain this week before scoring 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range against the Sun Devils (13-5, 2-3).

Arizona shot 55.7 percent from the field and 53.3 from three-point range.

Entering the game, the Wildcats averaged only 5.6 three-pointers a game, ranking 265th in the nation. They went 8 for 15 against ASU, including a 2-for-3 effort by point guard T.J. McConnell.

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After missing his first seven three-pointers in Pac-12 play, McConnell has connected on 7 of 10 from beyond the arc in the last two games against USC and ASU.

Seven Wildcats scored in double figures. Kaleb Tarczewski (12 points) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11) each had eight rebounds to lead the Wildcats, who outrebounded ASU 39-30.

ASU leading scorer Jahii Carson had a game-high 20 points but had 19 field-goal attempts, making only seven. He missed the only three-pointer he tried. Arizona’s defense held ASU to 34 percent shooting from the field, although the Sun Devils converted on 50 percent of their three-point attempts (7 of 14).

The Sun Devils also netted the most points against Arizona at McKale Center this season. The 68 points by ASU is still less than the 72 scored by Cal in 1986, when the Golden Bears produced the lowest high score for an Arizona opponent in a season at McKale Center.

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PAC-12 STANDINGS
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ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM
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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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