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ASU Basketball: No. 12 Arizona too much for Sun Devils as Wildcats sweep season series

Poor starts to both halves burned Arizona State in a 99-61 loss on Wednesday night.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

With just under eight minutes to play in the first half of Wednesday night's game against the Arizona Wildcats, shooting guard Gerry Blakes buried a 3-pointer to silence a rowdy McKale Center crowd, giving the Arizona State Sun Devils a 20-19 lead in the process.

After a sluggish start that saw the visitors from Tempe miss seven of their first eight shots, the lead came as a bit of a surprise to everyone playing in and watching the second Territorial Cup matchup of the season.

But as it turned out, that triple from Blakes was exactly what was needed to wake Arizona (22-5, 10-4 Pac-12) up.

The Wildcats exploded for a 42-14 run over the next 16 minutes, dashing any hopes of an upset that Arizona State (14-13, 4-10) might have had on Wednesday and won 99-61.

Arizona used its massive size advantage to pull away in that stretch, easily out-rebounding and drawing foul after foul against the Sun Devils. The score was 38-24 at the half, and it only got worse from there.

The Sun Devils came out of the locker rooms ice cold and before they even knew it, the hosts had doubled them up at 52-26.

JC transfers Obinna Oleka and Andre Spight were the lone bright spots for Arizona State. They both tallied 15 points but it was far too little against the more-talented Wildcats.

An Oleka three-ball actually cut the deficit to 17 with 12 minutes still remaining, but thoughts of a comeback were extinguished soon thereafter when yet another scoring drought bit the Sun Devils.

Arizona was able to stretch its lead all the way to 99-61 with just 35 seconds left, and instead of trying to break 100 the Wildcats graciously took a shot clock violation to leave the final margin at 38.

The 38-point defeat was by far the worst one of the season for Bobby Hurley's team. Along with the sting of a rivalry loss, the game also took away any hopes of a last ditch effort for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

There is still plenty to play for in the final three weeks of the season, most notably a chance at a return to the NIT. Arizona State will need a couple wins down the stretch to put itself in line for an invitation, which may be tough after this demoralizing defeat.

The good news is, they have plenty of time to forget about the loss.

The team will not return to the court until a week from Thursday, when they face the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. That game will start at 7:00 p.m. (MT) and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.