Hate is in the air: Arizona travels to ASU
Arizona is the men’s basketball team getting the most love in the Grand Canyon State, but its Valentine’s Day date has been quietly climbing up the Pac-12 standings.
Tonight on the road, No. 2 Arizona (23-1, 10-1 Pac-12 Conference) faces a different ASU team than the one it beat in Tucson last month.
ASU (18-6, 7-4) has risen to a tie for third in the Pac-12 and is three games behind the first place Wildcats. The Sun Devils have won five of their six games since losing 91-68 to Arizona in McKale Center.
The Sun Devils beat Cal 89-78 on the road, just before the Golden Bears broke the Wildcats’ winning streak.
Junior guard Nick Johnson contests sophomore guard Jahii Carson during Arizona's 91-68 win over ASU at McKale Center on Thursday.
ASU was without senior guard Jermaine Marshall against Arizona the first time they met. Through Feb. 9, Marshall was 12th in the Pac-12 in scoring with 15.6 points per game.
The game in Tucson is the only contest Marshall has missed.
“I think he’s an all-conference player,” head coach Sean Miller said at the weekly press conference.
The Sun Devils are 13-1 at home — losing only to Washington, 76-65 on Jan. 2 — but there are sure to be Arizona fans at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.
“It’s obviously our biggest rival, so it’s definitely a bigger game in a sense to all the fans,” junior guard Nick Johnson said at the press conference. “It’s definitely a good thing to hear the ‘U of A’ chants while you’re playing.”
The Wildcats have won three in a row against ASU. They are also 7-2 against the Sun Devils under Miller and lead the all-time series 145-80.
This season, Arizona leads the Territorial Cup Series 3.5-3, with today’s game counting as a half-point. All four Territorial Cup Series, have been won by the UA.
Who to watch:
Jahii Carson — sophomore guard — #1 — 5-foot-10, 180 pounds
Carson is No. 1 in the program, No. 1 in the hearts of ASU fans and No. 3 in the Pac-12 in scoring, with 19 points a game as of Feb. 9. Carson, who is from the Phoenix area, is also sixth in the conference in assists, with 4.71 a game.
Carson is widely expected to leave for the NBA Draft this summer, so this could be his last chance to beat the Wildcats.
Jordan Bachynski — senior center — #13 — 7-foot-2, 248 pounds
Carson is front and center for the Sun Devils but their senior center is a force on defense. Last week, the Canadian broke former Wildcat Anthony Cook’s all-time Pac-12 block record of 278.
Fun fact: The UA announced that the Wildcats will wear blue uniforms at ASU. This will be first time Arizona has worn navy in a regular season game in 2013-14. The last time the Wildcats wore blue during a real game was last March, in a 74-69 loss at UCLA.
Arizona also encouraged fans attending tomorrow’s game to wear blue instead of the standard red.
Prediction: Arizona beats ASU 81-75
—Follow James Kelley @Jameskelley520