Tucson, Ariz. • Nick Johnson scored 17 points, Solomon Hill added 12 in his final home game and No. 18 Arizona earned a first-round bye in next week’s Pac-12 tournament with a 73-58 rout over rival Arizona State on Saturday.
A late-season slide left Arizona (24-6, 12-6 Pac-12) needing a win or some help to avoid playing Wednesday in the conference tournament. The Wildcats took care of it themselves, building a 15-point lead in the first half and answering a big second-half run by the Sun Devils with one of their own.
Kevin Parrom had 13 points in his final game at the McKale Center, and Kaleb Tarczewski had one of his most aggressive games of the season, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.
Arizona State (20-11, 9-9) pulled within five in the second half but had trouble holding onto the ball. Its 17 turnovers led to 21 points for Arizona.
Carrick Felix scored 22 points after having a miserable game against Arizona in January, and Jahii Carson added 15 points but had six turnovers for the Sun Devils.
The 224th installment of this rivalry had the added specter of both teams in big need of a win.
After opening 12-0 in nonconference, Arizona has played inconsistently during the Pac-12 season, particularly on the defensive end. Following a sweep by the two Southern California schools, the Wildcats needed to beat the Sun Devils to assure themselves of earning a coveted bye for the first round of next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State has taken a more precipitous fall since opening 11-2 in nonconference, losing five of its previous seven games, including three straight. The Sun Devils already had to play the opening round of the conference tournament and likely need a good run in Las Vegas to get into the NCAA tournament.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.