With a lot of help from their underclassmen teammates, the Arizona Wildcats’ five seniors went out in style today with a 73-58 win over ASU at McKale Center.
Sophomore guard Nick Johnson, in possibly his best overall performance of the Pac-12 season, finished with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski had nine points and eight rebounds while freshman forward Brandon Ashley had six points and six rebounds off the bench.
Of UA’s scholarship seniors, Kevin Parrom had 13 points and seven rebounds, Solomon Hill had 12 points and four rebounds and Mark Lyons had eight points.
Lyons shot 2 of 10 from the field and had no assists to three turnovers, however. He also left the game when he was called for a technical foul, his fifth.
The win put Arizona in a three-way tie for second place in the Pac-12 at 12-6, and ensured the Wildcats will have a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament next week in Las Vegas.
Although the Wildcats tied with California and Oregon at 12-6, they will be the No. 4 seed because they did not beat either the Bears or Ducks this season.
As the No. 4 seed, UA’s first game will be Thursday at about 2:30 p.m. against the winner of the No. 5-vs. No. 12 game (Colorado vs. Oregon State or Washington State).
Arizona finished its regular season at 24-6 overall, while ASU finished 20-11 and 9-9.
The game took on a heated tone early in the second half, after Parrom was whistled for two straight fouls, Ashley was called for blocking and a skirmish resulted in Johnson and ASU’s Chris Colvin both getting technical fouls.
UA lead 44-30 after the technicals but ASU came back with a 13-4 run to cut the Wildcats’ lead to single digits.
UA led just 48-43 with 11:26 remaining but the Wildcats went up by 20 points, 70-50, with 4:23 left as the Sun Devils struggled with foul trouble.
The Wildcats' defense was opportunistic in the first half, when UA took a 40-25 halftime lead.
UA had five steals, and ASU had a total of nine first-half turnovers, while the Wildcats scored 12 points off the turnovers.
That, and UA’s 17-11 rebounding advantage, helped negate ASU’s 45 percent shooting from the field.
The Wildcats shot 46.7 percent from the field and hit 6 of 16 three-pointers, two of which came from Parrom. Johnson led the Wildcats in first-half scoring with eight points while Parrom and Tarczewski each had six.
Jordin Mayes finished the half for Arizona in a manner typical of the first half. He made a three pointer with 30 seconds left to give UA a 39-25 lead, then stole the ball from ASU’s Jahii Carson with four seconds left and was fouled. He then made one of two free throws.
Earlier in the half, three pointers from Mark Lyons and Parrom and Solomon Hill helped UA take a 26-18 lead.
UA went on an early 10-0 run to take a 12-5 lead four minutes into the game, getting three pointers from Kevin Parrom and Nick Johnson. But ASU came back to tie it at 12 with a 7-0 run of its own.