ASU Basketball: Martin takes over in Hurley’s first win vs. Arizona

TEMPE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 31: Remy Martin #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils and Ira Lee #11 of the Arizona Wildcats fight for a loose ball during the first half of the college basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena on January 31, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
TEMPE, ARIZONA - JANUARY 31: Remy Martin #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils and Ira Lee #11 of the Arizona Wildcats fight for a loose ball during the first half of the college basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena on January 31, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) /

There were tight moments, but Remy Martin made sure ASU basketball walked away victorious in Thursday’s matchup with Arizona.

As Arizona State players graced the floor for pregame warmups, skipping in layup lines and tossing self alley-oops to exercise adrenaline, there was nothing different about who stood on the opposite end. It was Arizona.

They wore the same colors – an interwoven thread of red, white and blue – that would war with any proponent of maroon and gold. The coach – Sean Miller – was the same one that has antagonized Bobby Hurley, winning all six of their matchups and denying any sort of gain or bragging supremacy.

It was still one of the Valley’s best rivalries – the Territorial Cup. But even as Tempe shouted insults and jumped at any chance to ‘boo’ Tucson, the anticipation had no chance of matching its normalcy.

Yes, this was Arizona. But in no way did this opponent mirror the ‘U of A’ standard, one with  exceptional prospects and a ‘blueblood’ reputation. In reality, this was the inferior.

Perhaps the Sun Devils sensed it. With Wildcat starting center Chase Jeter hobbled by back spasms and top recruit Brandon Williams sidelined with a tweaked knee, this became ASU’s game to win. That almost never happens.

And more than likely, the Sun Devils felt the pressure. In spite of afflictions to its top guns, the ‘Cats hung close in Thursday’s contest, even building a 67-61 lead with 7:03 to play. For perhaps the first time, Arizona was en route to an ‘upset’ of Arizona State.

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However, this was always ASU’s game. It just needed a performance like Remy Martin’s to take it.

The spirited sophomore guard did what he’s been doing in the Sun Devils’ (15-6, 6-3 Pac-12) 95-88 overtime win over Arizona (14-8, 5-4 Pac-12), playing scorer with a career high 31 points and entertaining a distributor role with eight assists.

And fortunately enough, his impact came in timely moments.

“He was doing a good job of not going fast in ball screens,” Hurley said. “He was doing a nice job of maintaining his handle, letting the play develop and then figuring out what the right read was.”

With his team facing its biggest deficit, Martin took it upon himself to stop the bleeding. He cashed in two consecutive 3-pointers – the second while falling down – to cut ASU’s deficit to 72-71 with 4:39 to go. On the ensuing possession, he drove baseline and finished with a right-handed reverse layup, charging the Devils back in front.

In overtime, Martin ensured the game wouldn’t leave his hands. He contributed to each of ASU’s seven consecutive points to open the extra period, including a dagger 3-pointer – his fifth of the game – to bury the Wildcats’ hopes.

“Whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do,” said Martin.

Not to be forgotten, Zylan Cheatham contributed another monster effort on the glass, recording 22 rebounds with 11 points. The 6-foot-8 senior reached double figures in boards by halftime.

“That (rebounding) was something we talked about at halftime, ” Cheatham said. “That was something we knew we had to limit because they scored every time they got an offensive rebound. To keep them off the glass was definitely a benefit for us.”

ASU finished with a +3 (38-35) advantage on the glass. Thursday’s contest was also an effective offensive outing, as the Devils 30-of-54 from the field, 9-of-19 from 3-point range and 26-of-35 from the free throw line.

Arizona shot 40.3 percent, but the Wildcats stuck close thanks to 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) shooting in the second half. Guard Justin Coleman finished with 16 of his 19 points in the final frame and dished nine assists.

Jeter, who received treatment on his back at halftime, finished with seven points on 1-of-5 shooting. Ryan Luther and Brandon Randolph followed Coleman in scoring with 19 and 17, respectively.

The night proved exciting for plenty of ASU fans, who stayed late to laugh and smile in victory. But none likely experienced the relief of Hurley, who picked up his first win against the Wildcats in seven tries.

By night’s end, he admitted it hadn’t settled.

“I’m exhausted, to be honest,” Hurley said. “It hasn’t sunk in, what this means to me other than another conference win. We’re 6-3, and we’re moving on to next week.”

His players, however, felt the impact.

“To come out victorious, it means a lot to me, just considering all the stuff I’ve witnessed this program go through in that game,” Cheatham said. “All that Hurley has went through. It just means the world to me to help.”

The victory improved ASU to 6-3 in Pac-12 play, trailing only Washington (8-0) in the standings. The Huskies come to town next Saturday.

Before then, the Sun Devils have shaken another monkey off their backs. And even though this it wasn’t Arizona’s best, it was the Wildcats – their rival – that they beat.

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In terms of Hurley building a reputable program, that’s a key building block he can now celebrate.

All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.