It was a back and forth affair in front of a sold out crowd at Wells Fargo Arena, but the Arizona Wildcats (16-1, 4-1) were able to use their superior depth to lead them to a 71-54 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils (14-4, 3-2).
Arizona led for much of the first half, but never pulled away. With 9.6 seconds left in the first half, Jahii Carson drove into the lane after beating two defenders, but picked up his third foul when he was called for charging. But after an Evan Gordon steal and layup, ASU only trailed at the half 29-26.
With 9:50 remaining, Carson was called for his fourth foul and Herb Sendek was forced to put him on the bench. Afterward, Arizona went on an 11-0 run to ice the game.
“I think [picking up my fourth foul] changed [the game] tremendously,” Carson said. “It puts my teammates in an awkward position to get out and guard a smaller guard. I think it was a huge swing.”
Mark Lyons was able to get to the basket at will with Carson in foul trouble and finished with 24 points to lead all scorers. Nick Johnson added 19 points.
“I think [Johnson] and Mark Lyons were really good today,” Sendek said. “Their ability to drive the ball past our first line of defense and then our second line and finally over our bigs was really effective.”
The suspension of Chris Colvin left the team without a backup point guard. Despite collecting four fouls, Carson played 33 minutes.
“Chris plays a really important role for us. We rely on his defensive toughness, his ball handling and playmaking,” Sendek said.
ASU’s backcourt of Carson and Evan Gordon finished with a combined 36 points for ASU. They were the team’s only players to score in double figures.
Carrick Felix was held scoreless in the first half and totaled just five points and four rebounds the whole game.
“For us to absorb that kind of game from Carrick is a lot to ask of our team right now,” Sendek said.
Arizona State’s next game comes on January 24 against USC at Wells Fargo Arena.