TUCSON, Arizona (Ticker) -- Jason Gardner and top-ranked Arizona avoided the fate of a pair of other highly-ranked high-profile teams.
Gardner scored 19 points and Channing Frye had 13 to lead the Wildcats to a 71-63 victory over Arizona State in a Pac-10 Conference game.
Arizona (14-1, 7-0 Pac-10) won its ninth straight on a night in which No. 3 Duke and No. 6 Kansas each fell. The Wildcats, who travel to face the Jayhawks on Saturday, are off to their best start since their first trip to the Final Four in the 1987-88 season.
"I'm sure (Kansas coach Roy Williams) looked at (Kansas') game the same way we looked at this game," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "Saturday is for fun, but these games tonight are league games that count in conference standings. I think we'll invite them to come out here instead, where it's nice and warm instead of 70-below or whatever it is back there in Kansas."
Luke Walton scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half for Arizona, including a 3-pointer that put the Wildcats up 38-18 with 2:51 left before halftime.
Arizona led 40-20 at halftime as Arizona State (12-6, 4-3) shot 25 percent (8-of-32) from the field.
"The biggest thing was we wanted to come out with a lot of energy and take it to them right in the beginning and we did that and built up a big lead," Gardner said.
Gardner hit a 3-pointer and Frye followed with a dunk to make it 51-25 with 14:35 left and give Arizona its largest lead. But Arizona State was resilient and scored 10 straight points as part of a late run.
"We were letting them have too many open threes and they got back into it," Frye said. "It's been a while since we played a complete game for 40 minutes. We're going to have to work on that."
Curtis Millage drilled a 3-pointer and Kenny Crandall added two from beyond the arc to get the Sun Devils within 61-56 with 5:09 remaining.
"We just kept kicking it out to them and they weren't missing," Arizona State freshman Ike Diogu said. "Arizona was bottling me up inside. When you've got shooters like Kenny and Curtis, you've got to get them the ball."
A pair of free throws by Gardner helped end the comeback effort by providing a 65-58 lead with 2:58 left. The senior guard added four free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.
The Sun Devils did have a chance to get back within five points with 20 seconds left, but Millage made only one of two free throws.
"This basketball team is a team that never quits," Arizona State coach Rob Evans said. "I'm proud of all these guys for the way they battled in the second half. If we play with the kind of passion that we played with in the second half, we'll be OK the rest of the season."
Millage led the Sun Devils with 20 points and Diogu added 15 despite managing only six shots due to constant double-teaming. Frye said that he was inspired to play well after seeing the attention that Diogu has received.
"All week, we heard Ike this and Ike that and Ike this and I kind of took that personally," Frye said. "I work really hard day in, day out and I'm a senior, and I'd like to get some respect, too."
But the Sun Devils turned in a sloppy effort that included 19 turnovers, with Diogu committing six. Arizona State shot just 35 percent (20-of-57).
Arizona State played without starting forward Donnell Knight, who was held out due to academics.
The Wildcats, who are 9-0 at home, have won 15 of the last 16 meetings in the series.