Feb 22, 2003
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. - Arizona State was primed for its biggest home game in years, and the No. 1-ranked Arizona Wildcats spoiled it with what might have been their best game of the season.
Wildcats coach Lute Olson has had a lot of great performances in 35 years of coaching, but he's never had a trio of front line players have the kind of night that Luke Walton, Channing Frye and Rick Anderson had in Arizona's 92-72 victory Saturday night.
Walton scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Frye, coming off a career-best 25 points last Saturday against USC, also had 23 points and 10 boards. Anderson matched his career best 19 points and had a season-high 12 rebounds.
Together, they were 26-for-40 shooting and 11-for-11 at the foul line.
"I've never had a team with three guys with double-doubles before," Olson said, "the whole front line."
The blowout came in front of the fourth-largest crowd at Arizona State. It was the first time the Sun Devils have hosted a top-ranked opponent.
Frye scored 17 in the first half for the Wildcats (21-2, 13-1 Pac-10). The 6-foot-10 sophomore from nearby Phoenix was 9-for-11 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds.
"I felt for our team to win, I had to play my best," Frye said. "Lately things have been falling for me. My teammates have been giving me the ball, and I've just been aggressive. The game is just so much more fun."
Olson said Frye "really played well, but when you look at it, there really wasn't anybody who didn't play well."
The Sun Devils (17-8, 9-5) had won four in a row to lure a crowd of 14,421, including 300 standing room only, the largest at Wells Fargo Arena in 23 years.
But they couldn't stay with the deep, talented Wildcats, who shot 57 percent in one of their best games of the season.
"They were clicking on all cylinders," Arizona State coach Rob Evans said.
Walton, whose senior season has been slowed by ankle injuries, scored 10 in the 24-5 outburst.
"It's been up and down for me personally," he said. "It did feel real good to come out and play a solid game."
Tommy Smith scored a season-high 18 for Arizona State. Freshman sensation Ike Diogu, who has reached double figures in scoring in every game this season, added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Curtis Millage had 14 points, but shot just 5-of-16. Jerome Hill scored 12, but only one in the second half.
"I don't think this game indicates the level that we're at," Diogu said. "We played below our level today."
Arizona made 19 of 20 free throws, compared with 13-of-23 from Arizona State.
The Wildcats set up a zone defense that collapsed on Diogu, and the Sun Devils couldn't counter with outside shooting.
"Our team defense was really horrible," Smith said, "and then when they were in the zone, we didn't have patience."
The Wildcats outscored Arizona State 12-4 in the final 2˝ minutes of the first half to go up 51-43 at the break, then went 12-1 to start the second half. When Jason Gardner, who had eight points - all in the second half - and 10 assists, punctuated the run with a 10-foot faeaway jumper from the baseline, Arizona led 63-44 with 14:28 to play.
Arizona State never got closer than 11 again.
Arizona shot 63 percent in the first half (20-for-32), to Arizona State's 46 percent (16-for-35). The Sun Devils shot just 39 percent for the game.
Frye made 5-of-6 field goal tries and was 5-for-5 at the foul line for his 17 first-half points, one shy of what he scored in the first half in his previous game.
Hill was Arizona State's top offensive weapon with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, but was 0-for-3 in the second half.
Arizona shot out to a 10-2 lead but Arizona State came back to tie it at 17-17 on Kyle Dodd's 3-pointer with 12:11 to play in the half. Smith's third consecutive basket gave the Sun Devils their first lead at 28-27, and when Smith made one of two free throws with 5:26 left before halftime, Arizona State led 31-29.
The game was tied five more times before Arizona's late first-half run.
Arizona State played a No. 1 team for the eighth time, and its only victory was at Oregon State in the final game of the 1980-81 season.