Ayton dominates in Wildcats’ win over Arizona State
Bahamian DeAndre Ayton came up huge for the University of Arizona Wildcats over the weekend, as the 7-foot-1, 250-pound center turned in a 25-point, 16-rebound performance in a 77-70 win for the Wildcats over in-state rival No. 25 Arizona State, to sweep the season series. Ayton also had four assists, three blocks and a steal.
On a one-handed slam dunk, Ayton gave Arizona a 70-63 lead with 1:25 left and came back again at the end, hitting a pair of free throw with 12 seconds left to give the Wildcats a game-clinching 77-69 lead. The game was tied at 63 with 3:48 remaining before Ayton tipped in a basket after two misses from Wildcats’ big man Dusan Ristic.
After seeing Ayton dominate his team two games in a row, Arizona State University (ASU) Head Coach Bobby Hurley had high praise for the Bahamian center.
“After competing against him twice I think he may be the best big I’ve seen in college as a player or coach,” Hurley said. “He’s just scratching the surface of what he’ll be in the future. He doesn’t get that tired either. We had him on the perimeter running around on ball screens but he stayed in there. He’s got a great future, obviously.”
With only four games remaining, Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller hopes they can use the win as a springboard to motivate the team ahead of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament next month.
“It was a hard fight. It wasn’t always pretty, but we played through some rough patches,” Miller said. “It was a great win and the environment was special. Road games in conference, especially when you’re playing for a lot like both teams are, I think you can really grow. Our team took a step forward.”
Arizona has an 18-3 win/loss record since dropping three in a row in The Bahamas during the Battle 4 Atlantis in November. Ayton has been a major factor in that turnaround, as he is averaging a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds and has recorded 20 or more points in 11 of those games.