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ASU Basketball: No. 3 Sun Devils unbeaten no longer

It was fun while it lasted.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Entering Saturday’s contest at the McKale Center, the No. 3 Arizona State Sun Devils were the lone unbeaten team in the nation.

Now, there are none.

The Sun Devils dropped their first game of the season to the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats Saturday at McKale Center, losing 84-78.

Senior guard Tra Holder led all scorers with 31 points. Arizona freshman forward Deandre Ayton and junior guard Allonzo Trier each had 23 in a winning effort for the home side.

Both teams came out of the gates slowly, feeling each other out through the first few minutes. The Wildcats took the first run of the game, extending out to a 9-3 lead at the first media timeout.

Most of the half, though, the ASU shot chart would have made the Miser Brothers’s day, as the Sun Devils were scorching, then were out in the cold.

Between the 15:34 and 10:36 marks, the Sun Devils made eight of nine shots from the field, led by freshman guard Remy Martin making all four of his attempts to take a lead.

For the next four minutes, though, there seemed to be a lid on the bucket, as ASU missed its next six shots, allowing the Wildcats to regain the lead.

Down the stretch of the first half, the margin was on a string. Neither side led by more than five points after the initial six-point lead for the Wildcats.

With the Sun Devils up five points late in the half, the Wildcats turned it on. A 9-2 run took the teams into the halftime locker room with the home team up.

The Wildcats continued their run into the second half, extending their lead to 49-41 in the first four minutes of the second half.

Unlike any of the runs in the first half, however, the Wildcats kept it up.

Despite efforts by the Sun Devils to cut into the lead, Arizona responded each time, keeping ASU at an arm’s length.

But the Sun Devils had one run left in them. A 13-2 burst had ASU on the brink of a lead with under eight minutes left and it had multiple chances to take a lead, but Holder and Evans both missed layups.

That felt like the end for ASU, as the Wildcats composed themselves, opened it up and took control, grabbing a 12-point lead.

But the Sun Devils didn’t quit. A 12-2 run of their own had ASU close in the game’s final moments, but there was not enough time to complete the comeback, giving the visitors their first loss of the 2017-18 season.

ASU has a chance to get back on track next weekend, traveling to Colorado on January 4 and Utah on January 7.