No. 8 Arizona opens Pac-12 with 94-82 win over Arizona State
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona coach Sean Miller is not someone who likes to dwell on the past, so naturally he downplayed the significance of beating rival Arizona State after consecutive losses in Tempe.
Gabe York had a different view. The senior guard remembered how it felt losing at Wells Fargo Arena the previous two seasons and wanted nothing more than to get some payback against the Sun Devils.
York took the game into his own hands in the second half. He hit a trio of 3-pointers during a key run and made eight free throws in the final 1:18 to help No. 8 Arizona to hold off rival Arizona State 94-82 on Sunday in both teams' Pac-12 opener.
''It's a place the last two years we've lost and that was always in the back of my mind,'' said York, who made 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 8 of 10 free throws to score 24 points. ''It definitely was a fulfilling win.''
Arizona (13-1) dominated inside in the first half and built a 16-point lead in the second on a barrage of 3-pointers led by York. The Wildcats shot 55 percent overall and made 7 of 12 from 3-point range, including 5 of 8 in the second half.
Allonzo Trier scored 20 points and Ryan Anderson finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for Arizona.
The Sun Devils (10-4) cut Arizona's lead to six with three minutes left but couldn't climb all the way back. York made sure of it, hitting 8 of 10 free throws, including three after a pair of technical fouls against Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, who was ejected.
Tra Holder had 24 points, and Obinna Oleka added 17 for the Sun Devils.
''Our guys fought hard with the deficit in the second half and put ourselves in position,'' Hurley said. ''We were just on the perimeter of getting back in the game and never could quite get over the hump there to really put some pressure on them late.''
Arizona State was one of the surprises of the nonconference season, playing at an up-tempo pace and the same hard-nosed style Hurley had in his days at Duke.
The Sun Devils did not shoot well from the perimeter early in the season before starting to find their stroke the past three games. They had the range dialed early against their rivals, hitting 5 of 11 from the arc while building a nine-point lead.
Arizona State's shooting took a big dip when Arizona turned up the defensive pressure, going more than five minutes without a point.
Arizona ran through its nonconference schedule with one loss - to No. 12 Providence - despite playing eight games without 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski (foot injury) and six without junior guard Elliott Pitts (personal reasons).
Tarczewski returned, but came off the bench, though Pitts spent the game in street clothes again.
Tarczewski gave the Wildcats a spark after they fell into the early hole, scoring five points during a 14-0 run. He and Dusan Ristic helped the Wildcats dominate Arizona State inside, scoring 15 combined points to put Arizona up 41-35 at halftime.
''I don't think we win this game without Kaleb's contribution,'' Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
The second half was a defensive battle early before Arizona kicked its offense into higher gear. Sparked by York's trio of 3-pointers, the Wildcats used a 13-4 run to go up 66-53 and pushed the lead to 16.
Arizona State wasn't quite done, though.
Kody Justice scored on a four-point play and Oleka dunked over Anderson during a 12-2 run that cut Arizona's lead to 78-72 with about three minutes left.
Holder added a 3-pointer to keep the Sun Devils within six, but Hurley was ejected after a string of foul calls sent the Wildcats to the line. Arizona made 13 of 14 free throws in the final 1:18 to seal the victory.
''We fought hard, but we just fell short,'' said Arizona State's Gerry Blakes, who had 12 points.
Hurley was known for his fiery disposition as Duke's point guard and it's carried over to his coaching career.
Hurley's tenacity was on full display late in the game, when came close to getting ejected after receiving his first technical, then again when he was ejected and continued screaming at the officials as he left the floor.
''I always want the spotlight to be on the performers, the guys on the floor and nothing more than that,'' Hurley said. ''And that goes for all of us. It goes for coaches, officials, everyone. It should always be about the players - players should decide the game.''
Arizona: The Wildcats open the Pac-12 season with three straight road games for the first time since 1994-95. ... Tarczewski was called for a technical foul in the second half for arguing a foul call against him.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had outrebounded teams by 5.3 per game during their non-conference schedule, but had seven fewer rebounds than Arizona. ... Forward Savon Goodman had two points on 1-of-4 shooting after missing four games because of unspecified reasons.
Arizona plays at No. 25 UCLA on Thursday night.
Arizona State plays at Southern California on Thursday night.