Wildcats drop Devils

Cold shooting or stout defense? A combination of both factors is what probably doomed ASU in its rivalry game at home. The Sun Devils were limited to just 37.7 percent shooting and trailed by double digits for nearly the entire second half as they fell to Arizona 67-52 in front of 10,189 in attendance at Wells Fargo Arena. The win marked the first series sweep by Arizona since 2007.

Arizona State (9-15, 1-11 Pac-10) opened the game on a fairly strong note and was able to lead 15-13 at the 13:14 mark of the first half. Alas, it was also the last time that the hosts were going to find themselves ahead of Arizona (21-4, 10-2) the rest of the night.

Kyle Fogg, who led all players with 26 points (6-9 from three-point range) scored 13 points in the first half and helped the Wildcats to go on a 15-3 run to lead 28-18 with 8:13 left in the half. ASU was able to do nothing more than trade baskets the rest of the period and went down to the locker room trailing 34-24.

"I thought in the first half we had some opportunities that we did not convert," said ASU head coach Herb Sendek. "Once again, given the margin and their excellence on defense, they don't give you the wiggle room to not capitalize. So we go down ten and I thought we had a couple of opportunities that if we're going to be more competitive in a game like this, we need to convert better.

"For us, we've got to convert. When we're converting at a little bit higher rate, we're going to be in a better position. They're an outstanding defensive team." To begin the second stanza the visitors showed no signs of slowing down and built their biggest lead, a 43-24 advantage, with just under three minutes elapsed in the period. The Sun Devils responded with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 43-34 at the 12:04 mark. However, that was as close as ASU would get to muster any kind of comeback on Sunday night.

What makes this Arizona victory all the more peculiar is that it came on a night where their leading scorer Derrick Williams had just 11 points and took just five shot attempts (4-5). Jesse Perry was the only other Arizona player in double digits aside from Fogg and Williams, chipping in with 10 points.

"One of the things about Arizona is they have great balance," Sendek acknowledged. "Any number of their guys can really hurt you. It's not unusual for them to have five of their guys in double figures. To some extent we were able to limit Derrick (Williams), but they hurt us with the three ball a little bit more.

They did a good job of spacing the floor and moving the ball. Once again, with Williams in the middle he commands a lot of attention. But they did a good job off the dribble. They did a good job spacing. And they made their shots."

The Wildcats converted 9 of 22 from beyond the arc. In contrast the Devils were 4 of 15.

On the other hand ASU saw its three primary scorers; Trent Lockett, Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks go 7 of 29 from the field. McMillan paced the Sun Devils with 12 points and five assists. Lockett added 10. Kyle Cain had a team high five rebounds.

Arizona edged ASU on the boards 36-31 and each squad had ten offensive boards. The free throw stat line wasn't as close as the visitors were 18 of 21 while the host shot just 8 of 14.

The Sun Devils have now dropped ten consecutive Pac-10 contests this season and will face the Washington schools this week, starting with the Huskies on Thursday evening at 6:30. Confidence can naturally be an issue at this point, especially for a group that has seven newcomers on its roster.

"It's very challenging, if not difficult, to have a lot of confidence when you don't have a great deal of success," Sendek admitted. "That's why it's important for us to celebrate smaller victories. It's important to point out where we are doing well. But I don't see our guys hanging their heads. They're showing up and working. The only way to attain confidence is to show up and continue working."

"Obviously it's tough to be a senior in this situation," McMillan stated. "If you had asked me in September if this would have been the case I would have said 'you're crazy.' It's where we are. It's the situation we've put ourselves in. We've got to get ourselves out. We're stepping up to the challenge.

"If we're able to get better, the future of this program is going to be very, very good."

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