Entering Sunday, it had been 12 long days since No. 8 Arizona last played. Twelve days since the Wildcats dropped their first game of the season, a 71-67 road loss to UNLV on Dec. 23.
Back at home in front of an energized crowd and taking on in-state rival Arizona State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams, Arizona got back on track with a 73-49 rout of the Sun Devils.
The Wildcats were clearly chomping at the bit to get back on the court and it showed: Arizona made four of its first five shots, all three-pointers, and used an early 15-1 run to jump out a 21-8 lead.
In the loss to the Rebels, Arizona shot 16 for 27 (59.3 percent) from the free throw line and 5 for 15 from three, figures that were much-improved on Sunday. The Wildcats missed just three of their 19 free throw attempts against the Sun Devils, and were 5 for 10 from the perimeter, including 5 for 7 in the first half.
Arizona took advantage of its strong defense and some early sloppy play by the Sun Devils, scoring 15 points off 13 first-half ASU turnovers (including six turnovers on its first 16 possessions). The Wildcats used their defense and timely shooting to build a 45-25 halftime lead.
Arizona State played Arizona tighter defensively in the second half, but couldn't overcome poor shooting and shaky point guard play. The Sun Devils shot 32.6 percent overall, including a dismal 27.3 percent (6 for 22) in the latter half, and finished with 22 turnovers.
The Sun Devils received just two points from sophomore Savon Goodman, who missed the first nine games of Arizona State's season after being a midseason transfer. The former UNLV forward averaged 15.8 points in his first four games in an ASU uniform, but picked up three fouls just over 13 minutes into the game. Goodman only attempted three shots overall, with both of his points coming on free throws.
A trio of Wildcats finished with 13 points, including freshman forward Stanley Johnson, who is Arizona's leading scorer on the season and poured in all of his points in the first half. Junior forward Brandon Ashley also added 13 points and shot 3 for 4 from three, while sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was the third Wildcat in double figures.
Arizona moves to 13-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Pac-12, while ASU drops to 8-6 and 0-1 in conference play.
Up next for Arizona is a game at Oregon on Thursday. The Wildcats will be playing just their third road game of the season, their previous away games being the loss to UNLV and a five-point win over UTEP in the game before that. The Sun Devils also hit the road on Thursday to take on Oklahoma State.