As ASU basketball prepares to take on in-state rival Arizona, a cloud sits over the Sun Devils’ team and fans of a rivalry victory.
This cloud is the type that casts a shadow over the entire success of the program no matter the victories or milestones they achieve. It is, of course, the ability of ASU’s head coach Bobby Hurley to secure his first career victory over Arizona.
While the team may currently be 0-6 under Hurley against Arizona, the six matchups have provided wild, entertaining, and downright odd moments.
Here are some of the top moments from the last six matchups over the years that have encapsulated the feelings toward one another.
Hurley’s First Game Against the Team down South (2016)
After defeating the Wildcats in Tempe both of the last two seasons, the Sun Devils knew history was on their side when taking on No. 8 Arizona at home. In their first season under Hurley, ASU had stormed out to a non-conference record of 10-3, including an upset of No. 18 Texas A&M, 67-54.
Despite the recent success at home against Arizona, the Sun Devils struggled to contain the likes of Gabe York and now-New York Knick Allonzo Trier. The pair combined for 44 of the team’s 94 points in the 12-point victory.
Hurley’s famous fiery attitude toward officials was on full display in the loss, as he was ejected after his second technical foul of the game coming in the final minute.
The combination of anger and letdown against the team’s rival set the tables for what would become a disappointing conference season. ASU would finish Pac-12 play with a record of 5-13, including a second loss to Arizona on the road, 99-61, the second-most lopsided score in series history.
Torian Graham Interacts with U of A Fans (2017)
The Arizona dominance would continue the following season, as the first meeting provided physical dominance from the Wildcats, outrebounding the Sun Devils 38-22. The lack of size proved to be too much to handle as U of A walked away at home with another blowout victory, 91-75.
While ASU showed moments of promise throughout, including 22 points from Obinna Oleka and 20 points from Tra Holder, it was a different Sun Devil who drew the majority of the attention.
After receiving verbal insults from the U of A crowd at the McKale Center in Tucson, it was ASU’s Torian Graham who used a gesture towards the fans that overshadowed the loss by the Sun Devils.
ASU would later host Arizona at home, dropping the matchup 73-60. The Sun Devils were led by Kodi Justice on the offensive side of the ball with 17 points.
Buffer, Boxing, and a Cheerleader Ejection (2017-18)
After losing the last four matchups, the Sun Devils looked primed to secure their first win under Hurley as they began conference play with a matchup against the Wildcats.
The reason for optimism?
The mantra of “Guard U” had come to life for ASU in non-conference play, as a 12-0 start highlighted by victories over No. 1 Kansas and Xavier put the Sun Devils in position to be a serious Pac-12 contender.
Led by the senior trio of Holder, Shannon Evans, and Justice, ASU rose to the No. 3 team in the nation as they prepared for a matchup against No. 17 Arizona.
The Wildcats put an end to the streak of perfection behind future No. 1 NBA Draft choice Deandre Ayton, who finished the game with 23 points and 19 rebounds.
The rematch between the teams would end up being much more of the same, despite Arizona State’s attempt at using boxing star power Michael Buffer to energize the crowd.
After lineup introductions by Buffer, including his famous “Let’s get ready to rumble,” the energized crowd was not enough as the Sun Devils fell 77-70.
Ayton dominated the paint for the Wildcats once again with 25 points and 16 boards to complete the season sweep.
One of the oddest moments during the series’ history came to fruition in the matchup after an Arizona cheerleader was ejected after his use of a megaphone.
Teams By the Numbers
Heading into the first of two matchups in 2019, the two teams’ hopes of making the NCAA tournament likely rest here. The Wildcats enter after two embarrassing blowout losses by 23 and 21 against USC and UCLA, respectively, while ASU enters having won three of its last four games.
Here are how the two teams’ numbers match up this season.
Points per game: Arizona 73 Arizona State 78.8
Points allowed per game: Arizona 67.8 Arizona State 72.3
FG %: Arizona .433 Arizona State .440
3P %: Arizona .336 Arizona State .318
Rebounds per game: Arizona 35.2 Arizona State 42.5
Assists per game: Arizona 12.7 Arizona State 14.2
Turnovers per game: Arizona 11.4 Arizona State 13.7
Steals per game: Arizona 5.6 Arizona State 6.0
Blocks per game: Arizona 2.5 Arizona State 3.1
ASU and Arizona will tip off from Wells Fargo Arena tonight at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed live via ESPN2.