Devils fall to rival on the road

An improved Sun Devil squad stood toe to toe with the Wildcats in the second half, but all afternoon could not find an answer for Derrick Williams and his career-high 31 points. Arizona avoided a fourth consecutive home loss to the maroon and gold prevailing 80-69.

Three pointers by Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks gave Arizona State (9-8, 1-4 Pac-10) a 15-8 lead at the 14:22 mark of the first half. That momentum was erased with a 10-0 run spearheaded by Williams. The visitors didn't make a field goal in a span of five plus minutes and along with their inability to stop Arizona (15-3, 4-1) in the paint or control the boards it was apparent that ASU would have an uphill battle today in Tucson.

The Cats led by as many as 12 points in the first half, shooting 60 percent from the field and posting 20 points in the paint (36 for the game). Another three-pointer by Kuksiks was able to bring the deficit back down to single digits as ASU trailed 43-34 at the half.

The play off the bench by Marcus Jackson and Jordan Bachynski in the beginning of the second stanza allowed the Sun Devils to consistently cut down the lead, and a Trent Lockett layup brought down the deficit to 61-57 with 6:40 remaining.

Alas, the Sun Devils didn't have an answer for Williams all afternoon. The sophomore converted eight consecutive free throws down the stretch to pad his squad's lead and secure the victory.

Lockett scored 9 of his team-high 17 points in the first half as foul trouble hindered him from making a bigger contribution in the last 20 minutes. Abbott chipped in with 14 points, had a team-high five rebounds and led all players with five assists. Carrick Felix was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with 11. Bachynski had four of his team's six blocks.

Arizona had 14 offensive caroms and controlled the rebounding battle 3-21. ASU shot 52.1 percent from the field and had 34 points in the paint. Yet, they shot just 28.6 percent from three-point territory and 61.9 percent (13-21) from the charity stripe. The Sun Devils committed just 9 turnovers to the Wildcats' 15, but the hosts scored 20 points off of those ASU turnovers.

The road won't get easier by any means for ASU as they travel to meet the Washington schools, starting with the Cougars Thursday night at 8:00 pm MT. It may not be the best of stages to try and manifest the team's improvement with a win, but nonetheless the same can be said for the rest of the team's conference games this month.

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