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Saturday, March 9, 4:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKale Center (14,538) -- Tucson, Arizona. Television: FSN. Home Record: Arizona St. 15-4, Arizona 13-2. Away Record: Arizona St. 4-5, Arizona 7-4. Neutral Record: Arizona St. 1-1, Arizona 3-0. Conference Record: Arizona St. 9-8, Arizona 11-6. Series Record: Arizona leads, 143-80.
GAME NOTES: Instate rivals will close out their regular seasons at the McKale Center on Saturday afternoon, as the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats square off with the Arizona State Sun Devils in Pac-12 action.
Sean Miller's Wildcats still have an outside shot at a share of the Pac-12 title at 11-6, as they trail both Oregon (12-5) and UCLA (12-5) by one game in the standings. If the Wildcats are able to earn a win against ASU and both the Ducks and Bruins falter in their regular-season finales, it will be a three- way split of the conference crown. Taking care of their part may be tough however, as Arizona enters this contest following back-to-back losses at USC and UCLA last week.
Herb Sendek's Sun Devils are certainly not an easy out, as they come into this contest with a 20-10 overall mark that includes a 9-8 league ledger. The conference record could have been a lot better considering ASU comes into the season finale with a three-game skid in tow, following last weekend's 57-56 loss at USC.
This marks the 224th meeting in this longstanding rivalry, with Arizona holding a 143-80 series advantage. UA has won 29 of the last 37 meetings overall and is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 71-54 victory in Tempe on Jan. 19.
ASU's Jahii Carson has to be considered a favorite to earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. The 5-foot-10 phenom ranks fourth in the conference in scoring (17.8 ppg) and third in assists (5.0 apg). Senior forward Carrick Felix (14.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 42 3-pointers) has been a perfect complement, with his ability to contribute both inside and out. Junior guard Evan Gordon (10.2 ppg) and junior center Jordan Bachynski (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.7 bpg) add depth both in the backcourt and frontcourt, respectively.
Carson was at it once again, erupting for a good portion of Arizona State's scoring output, but his 23 points weren't enough in a one-point loss to the Trojans. Bachynski added 17 points to the cause, but ASU was outrebounded 34-31 and went an ugly 1-of-12 from behind the arc in the loss.
The Wildcats got off to slow starts in both halves and didn't have enough to overcome the Bruins in a five-point loss at Pauley Pavilion. Grant Jerrett led four Wildcats in double figures in the setback, coming off the bench to tally 14 points. Mark Lyons added 13 points, while Kevin Parrom and Nick Johnson finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Arizona has enjoyed solid play at both ends of the floor for the most part and holds a +9.8 scoring margin, averaging 73.4 ppg, while yielding just 63.6 ppg. Lyons leads the offensive attack for the Wildcats with 15.1 ppg (10th in the Pac-12) and is one of the conference's top free-throw shooters (.848, 106- of-125). Solomon Hill is next in the scoring column at 13.6 ppg, while Johnson rounds out the top offensive threats with 11.4 ppg.
The Wildcats are much tougher on their own floor and still have a lot to play for. That should tip the scales in Arizona's favor, although it is never easy when these two teams get together.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 74, Arizona State 69
03/09 10:46:45 ET
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