For a team that has looked lackadaisical in recent weeks, the Wildcats came out with a lot of fire and were able to put a stranglehold on the Sun Devils rather early in the contest.
ASU was able to make pushes at different points of the game, but UA responded stronger each time and eventually put Arizona State out of its misery midway through the second half.
It was evident that the seniors would not let Arizona lose this game. Both Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom performed admirably in their final game at McKale Center and it seemed to ignite the entire team as multiple players seemed to take the right steps towards ending their recent slumps.
The final game of the regular season was a resounding success for the Wildcats with nearly everyone chipping in and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Senior play, the end of slumps and stingy defense were just a few of the factors in UA's domination of ASU.
Hill and Parrom each made big contributions in their final home game in college. Hill scored 12 points and Parrom put up 13, with each player making an impact in other areas of the game as well.
Hill has been the model of consistency throughout his entire college career and Arizona hopes that he gets to display that all-around skill-set for several more weeks. Hill put up four assists, grabbed four rebounds, and was a big defensive factor with three steals against the Sun Devils in the winning effort.
Parrom has been an inspiration of sorts this season. While he hasn't exactly lived up to the hype he was able to build up after his sophomore season, the fact that he has been able to return and become a major contributor on a team looking to make a deep tournament run is simply amazing given what he was forced to endure as a junior. If the strong play continues from Parrom, the Wildcats have a chance to make a big impact in the postseason.
Sophomore Nick Johnson looked a little more inspired on Saturday than he has in a while. His slump was one of the primary reasons UA has struggled offensively in recent weeks, but his successful afternoon on Saturday reversed that trend and the Wildcats were able to dominate ASU in the process.
Johnson's 17 points were a team-high, but his contributions in other areas were what made this performance reflect those that came earlier in the season.
It's essential for Johnson to continue to play assertively just as he did on Saturday. If he can come through with efforts like that in a nightly basis, UA will have a much better shot to beat the stronger teams it will face in the postseason.
It wasn't just Nick Johnson who impacted the game after a long period of struggling. Jordin Mayes came off the bench to pick up six points in 12 minutes of play.
The numbers may not be jaw-dropping, but the junior guard has been fighting through a rough season and an effort like he put forth Saturday could be just what he needs to get his confidence going.
If he can return to being the contributor he was in the tournament two years ago, Mayes could be a very dangerous resource for the Wildcats to utilize off the bench in the postseason.
The freshman is developing into the type of big man Arizona has lacked for many years. He is learning how to use his strength on the block and his rebounding is improving at a constant rate.
He was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor against Arizona State and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, while frustrating ASU big man Jordan Bachynski on both ends of the floor throughout the contest.
Tarczewski also seems to be grasping the importance of finding a quality look at the basket and he has thrived in recent weeks as he has been able to locate better shot attempts.
The 7-footer has knocked down 24 out of his last 38 attempts – a 63.2 shooting percentage – over his last eight contests and it wouldn't be surprising to see him involved more in the offensive game plan in the upcoming Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.
His presence on the court is vital to Arizona's potential postseason success and his progression must continue for the Wildcats to make a significant impact in the big dance.
The Sun Devils didn't shoot terribly (46.5 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three-point range), but Arizona's harassing defense forced ASU into committing 17 turnovers on the afternoon.
Arizona State's giveaways led to 21 points off of turnovers for the Wildcats and also allowed UA to control the entire game and win by a wide margin. Arizona will need to continue to bring the same effort defensively in the postseason and avoid falling into the lapses that have helped produce its six losses.
Thanks to the play of Johnson, Hill, Parrom, and the rest of the ball club, Lyons' 2-for-10 performance went relatively unnoticed.
His poor shooting performance is still very concerning, however, with the most important part of the college basketball season looming.
It marked the first time in 11 contests that the senior guard failed to reach double figures, but what's really concerning is the fact that he is just eight for his last 34 from the floor over the last three contests.
Lyons will need to improve his shooting efficiency. He has proven to be effective shooting and penetrating throughout the course of the season, but he has shot over 50 percent from the floor three times since the beginning of conference play. In non-conference affairs, Lyons connected on 50 percent or better in eight out of 12 contests.
If he can return to the form he displayed back in November and December, Arizona could be a very dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament. If Lyons plays as he did Saturday against ASU, however, the Wildcats will be lucky to get out of the second round of the big dance.