Pac-12 rivals collide in desert duel

Tempe, AZ ( - The sixth-ranked Arizona Wildcats will embark on a three-game road trip, starting with Saturday's Pac-12 showdown with in- state rival Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena.

Sean Miller's Wildcats are sitting perched atop the Pac-12 standings at 8-1. Arizona has won six straight games, with the most recent being a 54-37 win over Oregon State last week. It was the team's 20th win of the season, the 28th time in the last 31 seasons that UA has reached that mark.

Herb Sendek's Sun Devils will have their work cut out for them in this one. Arizona State is just .500 on the year at 11-11, but has really struggled in league play at a mere 3-6. The Sun Devils have dropped two of their last three games, including a heart-breaking 68-67 overtime setback to Oregon last Friday.

Arizona holds a 146-81 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona State, including a 60-31 mark in Tempe. The Wildcats are seeking the regular-season sweep after routing the Sun Devils in Tucson back on Jan. 4, 73-49.

It wasn't the prettiest offensive performance of the season for Arizona, but the team's .408 efficiency from the field was more than enough, as the Wildcats limited Oregon State to a meager .286 shooting performance in the 23- point romp. Brandon Ashley led the team in scoring with 12 points. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was a close second with 11 points, but leading scorer, Stanley Johnson struggled, going just 3-of-10 from the floor and tallying just eight points in the win.

It was a rare down game for the freshman Johnson, who has burst on the scene in Tucson this season, leading Arizona in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). The frontcourt is a real strength though, as others can pick up for Johnson should he falter. Ashley (11.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Hollis- Jefferson (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Kaleb Tarczewski (8.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg) all contribute along the front line. Backcourt mates T.J. McConnell (9.0 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Gabe York (8.7 ppg) give the team perimeter balance. Arizona has the ability to win games at either end of the floor, as evidenced by its +16.7 scoring margin. The team is averaging 74.9 ppg on .494 shooting, while limiting foes to just 58.2 ppg and .397 efficiency.

The Sun Devils are averaging a rather modest 69.7 ppg, but do so on an efficient .453 shooting. Shaquielle McKissic paces the team in the scoring column with 11.3 ppg. Gerry Blakes is the only other Sun Devil currently in double figures at 10.2 ppg, although Savon Goodman and Eric Jacobsen aren't far off the mark at 9.7 and 9.5 ppg, respectively.

McKissic did all he could do to lead the Sun Devils to victory, but it just wasn't enough in the end, as ASU fell at home to Oregon by a single point in overtime. McKissic netted a career-high 24 points and drained a long 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, one of a career-best six 3-pointers in the game for McKissic. Tra Holder was the only other Sun Devil to join McKissic in double figures, pouring in 16 points in the setback to the Ducks.