TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Feb. 26) -- Fourth-ranked Arizona, which will have to do without 7-foot-1 center Loren Woods for at least the rest of the regular season, nearly lost a 21-point first-half lead but pulled away to beat Arizona State 89-82 on February 26.
Gilbert Arenas scored 29 and Luke Walton 23, career bests for the two freshmen, as the Wildcats (24-4, 13-1 Pac-10) defeated the Sun Devils for the 10th consecutive time. Michael Wright had 16 points and 14 rebounds, including two crucial offensive rebounds in the final minutes.
Arizona State's late rally, which cut the lead to 73-70 with 3:27 to play, almost spoiled the post-game ceremony, when the court at McKale Center was named for Arizona coach Lute Olson.
Olson has compiled a 419-124 record in 17 seasons at Arizona. At McKale, Olson's teams are 257-26. Under Olson, the Wildcats are 29-5 against Arizona State.
Alton Mason, who scored all of his career-high 18 points in the second half, led the late surge by the Sun Devils (16-10, 8-6), who had won four in a row. His layup after an Arizona turnover cut the lead to 73-70 with 3:27 to play. But the Sun Devils went cold from the field after that and Wright took over the boards.
Eddie House, the Pac-10's leading scorer, had a miserable game and was on the bench in foul trouble during ASU's late surge. House, who will finish his college career never having beaten Arizona, was 3-for-15 from the field for seven points, nearly 17 below his average. In Arizona State's 82-55 home loss to the Wildcats in January, House was 4-for-14 and scored eight points. Chad Prewitt scored 16 for ASU.
Arizona, which won its 28th consecutive Pac-10 home game, raced to a 23-4 lead with a 16-0 outburst in the game's first 10:33.
Justin Wessel, who replaced Woods in the starting lineup, sank a 10-footer to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the half 35-14. But Arizona State, just 5-for-27 from the field up to that point, scored the last nine points of the half, capped by a 3-pointer by Kyle Dodd at the buzzer to make it 35-23.
Arizona State cut the lead to seven twice early in the second half. The Wildcats moved out to a 17-point lead, but the Sun Devils managed one final rally.
Wright's rebound basket boosted the lead to 75-70. With 1:02 to play and Arizona leading 81-74, Walton missed two free throws, but Wright got the rebound, was fouled and sank two free throws to make it 83-74 with 59.1 seconds to play.
Walton, son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton, was 7-for-9 from the field and had a game-high seven assists.
The Sun Devils were called for eight fouls in the second half before the Wildcats got their first. Arizona State was called for 33 fouls, compared with Arizona's 14. Arizona was 30-for-44 from the free throw line, while Arizona State was 14-for-16.
The Wildcats announced Saturday that Woods, who has missed two games, will be out at least another two weeks with a compression injury to his lower back. The earliest he could return would be the first game of the NCAA tournament.