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Arizona Holds Off Sun Devils 83-82

Lopsided victories have been the norm this season for No. 3 Arizona, the defending national champion.

But Arizona State, with only nine players in uniform and seven on scholarship, wasn't about to be victimized that way twice in two months.

Miles Simon scored 23 points and A.J. Bramlett got all 11 of his over the final 16 minutes as Arizona held on to beat the upset-minded Sun Devils 83-82 Saturday.

"I told our team they did not deserve to win this one," Wildcats coach Lute Olson said. "It's a definite wake-up call. It could serve the same as a loss."

Nonetheless, it was the 15th consecutive victory for Arizona (22-3, 12-0 Pac-10), which hasn't lost since Dec. 23 at Florida State.

The Wildcats won the previous 14 by an average of 21 points with only one game decided by single digits - 88-81 at Texas on Dec. 6.

On Jan. 15 at Tucson, Arizona crushed Arizona State 127-99 - a conference record for points and the most ever allowed in the Sun Devils' 86-year basketball history.

"We knew ASU was going to be pumped up," Simon said. "They came out and hit their shots and played their hearts out. It was a real intense game and anything could have happened. Luckily, we pulled it out."

Arizona State (16-9, 6-6) had a six-point lead with 13:14 to play before Simon and Bramlett took over.

But after Mike Bibby's jumper with 2:19 remaining put the Wildcats up 83-79, they didn't score again.

Jeremy Veal, who had 24 points, hit a driving lay-in with 1:15 left and Ahlon Lewis drove the baseline for a finger roll with 37 seconds remaining to pull the Sun Devils within 83-82.

Arizona then missed the front ends of three 1-and-1s - one by Simon and two by Michael Dickerson - in an eight-second span.

Bobby Lazor, who had 20 points, pulled down Dickerson's last miss and Arizona State called a timeout with nine seconds left to set up a final shot. But Lewis' baseline jumper bounced off the back of the rim as the horn sounded.

"Al had a wide-open look and I thought it was going in. It just didn't go down," said Veal, who is four points shy of passing Ron Riley (1,834) to become his school's leading career scorer.

It was the Sun Devils' sixth straight loss to their archrival and 25th in the last 30 meetings overall. They last beat Arizona 103-98 in double overtime on March 11, 1995, in Tucson.

"We had a chance to win this one and we deserved it," Arizona State interim coach Don Newman said. "We laid it on the line against one of the best teams in the country. We have nothing to be ashamed of."

The Wildcats feel they do.

"We let the other team hang around. It happens sometimes," Bramlett said. "Last year, we won all close games. This year, it's been blowouts. But games like this will help us come tournament time."

Bibby and Dickerson each finished with 16 points, while Eugene Edgerson had 12 rebounds for Arizona, which shot 44 percent (32-of72).

Simon had 17 points in the first half, including a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Arizona a 42-38 lead.

But Lazor had a three-point play and a dunk in a 9-0 run as the Sun Devils grabbed a 62-56 lead.

The score was tied five times until Bramlett made two free throws with 4:49 left to put the Wildcats ahead to stay at 77-75. Jumpers by Davidson, Simon and Bibby made it a five-point lead heading into the final two minutes and setting the stage for the wild finish.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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