TEMPE - Chase Budinger scored 23 points and Marcus Williams added 19 as Arizona defeated Arizona State 61-58 Sunday night, the Wildcats' 24th win in the last 25 meetings between the in-state rivals.
Leading 58-49 with 2:40 to play, the Wildcats watched as ASU's Derek Glasser and Christian Polk hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Sun Devils within 58-55.
Bret Brielmaier hit a free throw with 7 seconds left to put the Wildcats up by 4, and Arizona needed that margin when Williams fouled Glasser beyond the 3-point arc with 2 seconds left.
It was an emotional victory for the Wildcats (18-9, 9-7 Pac-10), who had lost 7 of their last 11 games, raising the possibility that their 22-year string of NCAA tournament appearances may end.
Arizona coach Lute Olson is 43-6 against ASU as the Wildcats' coach.
Christian Polk scored 18 points, Serge Angounou had 14 and Jeff Pendergraph 13 for the Sun Devils (7-20, 1-15).
The Wildcats won the first game between the schools 71-47 in Tucson Jan. 24, and early on it looked as if the rematch would be another blowout. Arizona jumped ahead 7-0, scoring on its first three possessions on a drive by Mustafa Shakur, a lay-up by Budinger and a 3-pointer by Williams.
The Wildcats stretched their lead to 22-12 midway through the first half. But that's when Angounou went on a personal 8-2 run, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and a 15-footer to spark a 19-8 run that put ASU ahead 31-30 at intermission.
The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half but trailed because they had 9 turnovers. Although it had a week to prepare for the game, Arizona appeared befuddled by the Sun Devils' zone defense.
That changed in the second half. The Wildcats began attacking the basket, and they outscored ASU 15-6 to take a 45-37 lead 6 minutes into the half.
But Arizona State kept coming, just as it did a week earlier in a victory over then-No. 22 Southern California. The Sun Devils pulled within 47-46 midway through the half.
Then ASU went through one of the scoring slumps that have plagued it all season, scoring only one basket in a 7-minute stretch late in the half.