Arizona basketball holds a 148-82 overall record against rival Arizona State. Much of that record in favor of the Wildcats is thanks to the past three decades spanning the Lute Olson and Sean Miller eras. The exception: James Harden’s ASU squads going 5-0 against UA spanning 2008 and 2009.
Otherwise, Sun Devil upsets have been rare and even more uncommon when Arizona is a ranked team.
More often than not, those upsets happen in Tempe. To get in the rivalry mood for the Sun Devils’ battle against the Wildcats to close their regular seasons on Saturday, here are the last five times ASU has upset ranked Arizona teams.
Feb. 7, 2015
The last hurrah for the Sun Devils’ success over the Wildcats in the Herb Sendek era came in Tempe less than two months before ASU let the head coach go. The game was an impressive one for Arizona State freshman point guard Tra Holder, the only member of the Sun Devils who remains on the team heading into Saturday.
Holder, facing current NBA point guard T.J. McConnell, controlled the Sun Devils’ halfcourt offense, creating havoc on dribble-drives and recording a then career-high eight assists to go with 15 points in the 81-78 upset of No. 6 Arizona. Bo Barnes, meanwhile, added 18 points off ASU’s bench.
Feb. 14, 2014
Arguably Sean Miller’s most talented team during tenure in Tucson visited Tempe weakened after power forward Brandon Ashley broke his foot in a loss at Cal two weeks earlier — it was their first loss of the year. With a 23-1 record and No. 2 national ranking coming into the rivalry game, the Wildcats traded body blows with the Sun Devils before and throughout two overtimes.
Arizona’s 16-of-30 free throw shooting didn’t help avoid the 69-66 upset, but a roster that included NBA talent like McConnell, Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson wasn’t enough against Arizona State’s key players. Jermaine Marshall dropped eight of his 29 in the second overtime, center Jordan Bachynski tallied eight blocks and point guard Jahii Carson scored 17 to go with six assists — his hanging on the rim as the seconds ticked off was the kick to the gut of Arizona fans.
Jan. 23, 2002
Want to feel old?
The next time a ranked Wildcats team fell to ASU, it was current Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton leading No. 10 Arizona into a Tempe trap.
Walton scored 26 points to go with six dimes and 10 rebounds, but ASU got 22 points from Chad Prewitt, 19 from Curtis Millage and 16 from Tommy Smith in a shocking 88-72 win that wasn’t close for much of the afternoon.
March 11, 1995
It didn’t help the Wildcats’ cause that point guard Damon Stoudamire was suspended for an NCAA violation. But as usual, it took a Herculean individual effort to push ASU to an upset.
Arizona State forward Mario Bennett led his No. 18 team past No. 12 Arizona 103-98 at McKale Center, scoring 34 points in a double-overtime showdown. As importantly, he added two crucial blocks: One on Arizona’s Ray Owes at the regulation buzzer and a second on a game-tying, three-point attempt by Corey Williams in the second overtime period.
Jan. 5, 1995
Earlier in the 1994-95 season, Arizona State proved it could beat Arizona with Stoudamire. ASU did that by shutting down the Wildcats’ best player, holding him to five points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Ninth-ranked Arizona, however, thought it had a win when Stoudamire knocked down a three-pointer with six seconds left, but his teammate, Owes had called a timeout before the release.
Instead of a 55-53 Wildcats advantage, they still trailed 53-52. Out of the timeout, No. 15 ASU’s defense put in another gritty effort that defined their low-scoring win in Tempe. Head coach Bill Frieder called for a double on Stoudamire, and the Sun Devils stole the ball from Reggie Geary to seal the victory. Guard Ron Riley led the Sun Devils with 19 points and nine boards.
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