Arizona forward Brandon Ashley, left, puts up a shot as Southern California center Omar Oraby, center, and guard Julian Jacobs defend during the second half Sunday in Los Angeles. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Los Angeles — For all of Arizona’s decorated basketball history, the 2013-14 Wildcats have done something none of their predecessors accomplished.
Brandon Ashley and T.J. McConnell each scored a season-high 19 points and No. 1 Arizona beat Southern California 73-53 Sunday night to improve to 17-0 for the best start in school history.
“We’re really excited about it, we really are,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We talked about it and it’s something I think all of us will really cherish. Any school record you break at Arizona in the basketball program is a real record because of the great tradition that we have.”
The 1931-32 Wildcats held the previous record for best start at 16-0.
“It feels great to know we got the record,” said McConnell, who also had six assists. “But we have to move on because we have another game on Thursday.”
Arizona didn’t pull away and secure the record until the final minutes. The Wildcats led just 34-31 at halftime and 48-43 with nine minutes to play, but then they reeled off an 18-6 run — highlighted by eight points from McConnell — to finally put USC (9-7, 0-3 Pac-12) away.
All in all, Arizona outscored the Trojans 25-10 over the final 8:33 to turn the close game into a rout and improve to 4-0 in the conference.
“We were just trying to stay poised the last few minutes of the game and really just had a defensive mindset to really lock down,” guard Nick Johnson said. “They’re a good team and we knew that coming in. They gave us their best shot and they had us for a little bit, but we rallied back and stayed with it.”
Johnson chipped in 15 points and Aaron Gordon had 12 for the Wildcats, the second straight game they’ve had four players reach double figures in scoring.
(At) No. 12 Louisville 71, SMU 63: Luke Hancock had a career-high 23 points, including two free throws with 46 seconds remaining, for Louisville in a meeting of Hall of Fame coaches.
Hancock’s second straight 20-point game helped Rick Pitino’s Cardinals (14-3, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) get the final word in his first collegiate matchup against former Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown and his Mustangs (11-4, 1-2).
Making his first start despite dealing with a left Achilles issue, the senior guard made 8 of 15 from the field — 4 of 9 from 3-point range — to help keep Louisville ahead in a tense game that Montrezl Harrell finally settled with a dunk and a block after Hancock’s free throws.
Russ Smith scored 23 points and Harrell added 12 points and 13 rebounds as Louisville bounced back from Thursday’s loss to No. 24 Memphis with 47 percent shooting, despite being outrebounded 48-35 including 20-6 on the offensive end.
Markus Kennedy had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first start of the season for SMU while Shawn Williams added 10 points. The Mustangs hit just 24 of 65 from the field (a season-low 37 percent), well below their league-best 50 percent mark coming in.
No. 13 San Diego State 79, (at) Air Force 72: JJ O’Brien had 18 points and 11 rebounds as San Diego State extended its winning streak to 13 games.
It is the second-longest winning streak in school history for the Aztecs (14-1, 3-0 Mountain West) and it continues their second-best start ever behind 20-0 in 2010-11.
Tre’ Coggins had 29 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Falcons (8-7, 2-2), who led for much of the first half before trailing 31-27 at the break.
The Aztecs held a 39-30 rebounding edge including 17-6 on the offensive end. The Aztecs were 7 of 14 from beyond the arc while the Falcons were 7 of 20.
Xavier Thames had 16 points for the Aztecs and Josh Davis added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
(At) Washington 71, No. 15 Colorado 54: C.J. Wilcox set career highs with seven 3-pointers and 31 points, including 21 in the second half, for Washington.
Washington (11-6, 3-1 Pac-12) had lost 12 straight against ranked teams.
Colorado (14-3, 3-1) never recovered after leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie crumbled to the court late in the first half after his left knee buckled while dribbling on a fast break. Dinwiddie had to be helped to the locker room by teammates and did not return.
The Huskies outscored the Buffaloes 49-29 after Dinwiddie’s injury.
Josh Scott led Colorado with 15 points. Askia Booker, the reigning Pac-12 player of the week, was 0 for 9 from the field and went scoreless for just the second time in his college career.
Stanford 82, (at) No. 17 Oregon 80: Anthony Brown scored a career-high 24 points and Stanford held on to send Oregon to its third straight loss.
Chasson Randle had 23 points for the Cardinal (10-5, 1-2 Pac-12), who beat their second ranked team this season, something they hadn’t accomplished since 2009.
Mike Moser scored 24 points to lead the Ducks (13-3, 1-3), who had two chances to tie the game in the final 8 seconds but Johnathan Loyd missed an open jumper and Dominic Artis had a last-ditch layup roll off the rim as time expired.
Oregon opened the season 13-0 but hasn’t won since beating Utah in overtime on Jan. 2.
Brown made his first seven attempts from the field and 10 of 12 overall. Randle, who was coming off a 30-point performance in a loss to Oregon State in Thursday, was 8 of 14 from the field.