With just under a minute remaining, ASU basketball looked as if it was en route to its first conference road sweep since 2010.
Fast forward to 14 seconds left, as USC’s Bennie Boatwright hit a three to put the Trojans ahead for good. ASU fell, 69-67.
With the loss, the Sun Devils’ winning streak of three games came to an abrupt halt with a matchup against the team’s in-state rival looming in the coming week.
The loss came with a certain sting, as the Maroon and Gold controlled the majority of the game with Remy Martin continuing his streak of impressive play. The sophomore guard led the team with seven assists after having 11 and eight assists in the last two games in victories over UCLA and Oregon, respectively.
A last-second blunder by freshman Luguentz Dort not calling a timeout right away on a rebound led to 0.8 seconds left on the clock and a turnaround shot from near midcourt by Dort that missed the mark.
Despite the loss, ASU has found an identity in the past four games, setting them up for quite arguably their best shot at taking down Arizona for the first time since coach Bobby Hurley took over in 2015.
The identity has been led by the play of Martin and junior transfer Zylan Cheatham, who have spearheaded the offensive and defensive attacks for Arizona State.
While the Sun Devils have been playing their best basketball since the start of conference play, the team down south in Arizona has struggled after losing their last two games against USC and UCLA by a combined 44 points.
With losses against Oregon and the LA schools in the team’s last four games, the Wildcats have put themselves in danger of dropping their first game against Arizona State since the 2014-15 season.
The struggles for the Wildcats came on the heels of missing Chase Jeter after he suffered back spasms against Oregon State. Jeter’s presence was missed in the loss against both USC and UCLA as they were outrebounded by double digits in both matchups.
After getting outrebounded by 13 and 17 against USC and UCLA, respectively, the key point in Thursday’s matchups will be on the boards.
The rebounding battle has been one Arizona State has dominated for much of the year, as the length of this season’s team is unique to any team Hurley has coached before. The likes of ASU’s Dort, Kimani Lawrence, Cheatham, Romello White, and De’Quon Lake have been essential in the dominance of rebounding.
After leading the country at one point in rebounds per game, Arizona State currently sits at No. 7 at 42.2 rebounds per game, compared to Arizona’s 35.2 per game.
The recent streaks by both teams, with ASU winning three of their last four and Arizona mirroring the opposite, sets up the Sun Devils with arguably their best chance to pick up their first victory against their in-state rival in the Hurley era.