TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Lauri Markkanen scored a career-high 30 points, Kadeem Allen added 18 and No. 16 Arizona used a dominating first half to beat rival Arizona State 91-75 on Thursday night.
Arizona (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) turned the first of two regular-season games in this rivalry into a laugher from the opening tip.
Behind a rash of 3-pointers and rim-rattling dunks , the Wildcats scored the game’s first 12 points and kept pushing. Dusan Ristic scored 16 points and Markkanen made 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
Arizona shot 57 percent, had 25 assists on 34 field goals and a 38-22 rebounding advantage. The Wildcats also scored 19 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.
The Sun Devils (9-9, 2-3) outplayed Arizona for parts of the second half, but fell into too big of a hole after missing all nine of its shots from the 3-point arc in the first half.
Obinna Oleka led Arizona State with 22 points and Tra Holder added 20.
Arizona State had trouble with Utah’s size in an 88-82 loss in its last game. The Wildcats are even bigger; the Utes had trouble with their length in a 66-56 loss at McKale Center last week.
The Sun Devils started 6-foot-10 Jethro Tshisumpa in attempt to negate some of Arizona’s size advantage.
It did little good. Ristic scored the game’s first basket and had seven points in the opening 2 1/2 minutes as Arizona revved up the McKale Center crowd with an opening 12-0 run.
The Sun Devils had some success by switching to a zone, but the Wildcats quickly figured that out. Markkanen hit three straight 3-pointers in a span of 75 seconds and the lead surged to 29-12.
Arizona State tightened up defensively in the closing minutes of the first half, but still trailed 45-25.
The Sun Devils finally started getting 3-pointers to fall in the second half – extending their streak to 523 games – and continued to play well defensively. They cut the lead to 13 midway through, but were too far behind to make up enough ground and Arizona pulled away.
Arizona continues to thrive, even with Allonzo Trier in street clothes. The Wildcats are a matchup nightmare because of their length, particularly when Markkanen is hitting from the perimeter.
Arizona State simply can’t win when it’s not making 3-point shots. The Sun Devils finished 10 for 27 from beyond the arc, but going 0-for-the-first-half killed any chance of ending a six-game losing streak in Tucson.
Arizona State plays at No. 4 UCLA next Thursday and at No. 25 Southern California on Jan. 22.
Arizona plays at USC next Thursday and UCLA on Jan. 21.