SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- Will Bynum was the reason Luke Walton was able to enjoy his return home.
Bynum pumped in 14 of his 19 points in the first half to make Walton's trip home a success as top-ranked Arizona survived its sternest test of the season to date with an 89-81 victory over San Diego State.
Walton is considered one of the best team players in the game and has been placed on the cover of numerous national publications. The youngest son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton was averaging just 4.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in the first three games this season.
A trip home to San Diego, where he led University High School to three straight unbeaten conference marks, was supposed to revitalize Walton as he was playing in front of his famous father broadcasting the game. Walton had just seven points, three rebounds and four assists and Bynum took advantage with a strong outing.
"Will competed hard in every aspect," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "He shot the ball well and did other things that were key."
Bynum, a sophomore guard from Chicago, made two foul shots and a 3-pointer in an 11-3 run that gave the Wildcats (4-0) a 42-32 lead. Bynum's 3-pointer with just under 11 minutes left gave Arizona its largest lead at 70-51.
San Diego State (2-3) never quit, but never got no closer than the final margin. The Aztecs got within 78-68 with just over three minutes left on a basket by Trimaine Davis but Wildcats center Isaiah Fox scored four straight points to seal the win.
"Obviously, we wanted to win," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "In my heart, I felt that even though we weren't supposed to win, when we got going we felt like we could win. That's half the battle."
Rick Anderson collected 17 points and 10 rebounds and Fox netted 10 points for Arizona in its first road game. It helped offset a tough shooting night for senior point guard Jason Gardner, who made 1-of-10 shots and missed all seven 3-pointers. Gardner had nine points and six assists.
Bynum may soon be alongside Gardner as a starter after nailing four 3-pointers and adding three steals. His energy helped Arizona survive in front of a crowd of 12,414 fans at Cox Arena.
"Will gives us a real spark off the bench, that's why we didn't go with him in the starting lineup," Olson said. "We're still playing with that, as far as what our best lineup will be."
Luke Walton also had both of his brothers in attendance, Adam and Aztecs redshirt forward Nate Walton. Luke exchanged friendly trash talk with Nate throughout the game and had a postgame chat on television with Bill Walton.
"It was a fun homecoming," Luke Walton said. "We won. It wasn't pretty, but we still have trash-talking rights."
While the Walton family reunion was a success, Luke Walton's performance was not. He made 2-of-6 shots and was a non-factor for most of the night on one of the deepest teams in the nation.
Tony Bland and Deandre Moore each scored 16 points to lead San Diego State, which shot 44 percent (32-of-73). Moore also handed out eight assists.
"We came out and did the necessary things to win," Bland said. "We accepted the challenge to play the number one team and I think we played well."
Arizona capitalized at the free-throw line, making 22-of-30 attempts. The Aztecs had just 13 foul shots and made nine.
The game marked the debut for San Diego State freshman Evans Burns, who signed with UCLA before he was released from his commitment due to eligibility issues. Burns, the first McDonald's All-American in school history, finished with seven points and three rebounds off the bench.
"I thought it was going to be different, but I was really relaxed," Burns said. "I hesitated on shooting for a while but I got confidence and my level of comfort was better towards the end of the game."
Mike Mackell was the fifth Aztec in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. San Diego State shot only 32 percent (8-of-25) from beyond the arc.