TUCSON, Ariz. – Nick Johnson had 17 points, Aaron Gordon added 16 and top-ranked Arizona jumped on rival Arizona State early in a 91-68 rout Thursday night.
Arizona (18-0, 5-0 Pac-12) raced out to a 21-point lead in the first half and didn’t let up, extending the best start in school history with a flurry of dunks and 3-pointers.
The Wildcats put seven players in double figures, shot 56 percent and had 21 assists on 34 field goals to beat the Sun Devils for the sixth time in seven games.
Kaleb Tarczewski had 12 points and eight rebounds, and T.J. McConnell added 10 points and six assists for Arizona.
Arizona State (13-5, 2-3) played without second-leading scorer Jermaine Marshall and had trouble with Arizona’s size all night, shooting 34 percent.
Jahii Carson had 20 points and five assists, but struggled early and had at least four shots blocked.
Bo Barnes added 13 points for the Sun Devils, who had 18 turnovers and seven assists.
Arizona has gotten off to the best start in school history behind its defense
The Wildcats entered the game fourth nationally in scoring at 56 points per game, seventh in field goal percentage at 37 percent and 13th in 3-point shooting at 28 percent.
Arizona State was already going to have a tough time against the long, athletic Wildcats and it certainly didn’t help that Marshall was out after injuring his groin in practice this week.
Revved up by the boisterous crowd, Arizona was at its defensive best early, contesting every shot, pass and dribble.
Arizona State missed 15 of its first 17 shots and Carson had nowhere to go against Arizona’s pressure – particularly McConnell – while missing his first five shots.
After a jittery offensive start, the Wildcats started hitting from everywhere, racing out to a 21-point lead while making 14 of 28 shots.
The Sun Devils started to shoot a little better late in the half, but had a hard time digging out of the hole, trailing 42-28 after shooting 6 of 26.
Arizona kept rolling to start the second half, hitting five of its first eight shots to stretch the lead to 22.
Gordon then scored on an alley-oop, Tarczewski threw down a dunk on a no-look pass from Gabe York and McConnell dropped in a 3-pointer, flashing three fingers to the fans across from the bench after putting the Wildcats up 59-38.