It was a familiar sight for both Arizona and Arizona State fans, as the Wildcats trounced the Sun Devils 73-49 in Tucson.
Arizona State was thoroughly outmatched from the beginning, finding points hard to come by because of the Wildcats’ stifling defense. Arizona held the Sun Devils to just 32% field goal shooting, while converting 51% of their own shots.
“We’re going to be better when we harass you,” Sean Miller said.
Miller opted for a lineup change in the first game of 2015, starting Elliott Pitts and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, while Gabe York and Stanley Johnson came off the bench.
“You want to reward guys who practice hard, that’s not a slight to Gabe York or Stanley Johnson, its not like they did anything wrong,” he said.
Both Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson had great games in new roles, with Hollis-Jefferson chipping in 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. Johnson was zoned in on offense, contributing 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists on 5 of 8 shooting from the field.
“This year we might have to move the lineup around,” Miller said. “Starting is important to players and I think when you practice really well, or hard, or consistent, you want to reward those guys.”
Brandon Ashley also performed well, adding 13 points while converting 3 of 4 from beyond the arc.
Overall it was Arizona’s defensive effort that bottled up an Arizona State team that is capable of scoring the ball.
“Tonight was an excellent defensive performance for us, I think that was the difference tonight,” Miller said.