The last time Arizona State and Arizona met on the basketball floor, the Sun Devils prevailed 87-80 at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe last March.
The two schools will meet again on the same floor Saturday, but the participants on the ASU side aren’t putting much stock in that game, which somewhat eased the pain of a disappointing season for the Sun Devils.
“Last year was last year, it was a good game between us but I mean, we have a different team, they have a different team,” ASU senior forward Carrick Felix said Wednesday. “This year is definitely going to be a battle between both teams. We’re both top teams in the Pac-12 right now so it’s definitely going to be a 40-minute battle.”
ASU head coach Herb Sendek echoed Felix’s sentiments about last year’s win.
“Irrelevant,” he said. “New team, new team altogether, a new season. It’s no more or less relevant than the games played two years ago, three years ago or in 1956.
“It would be a far reach to try and extrapolate any connection between that and this.”
Only nine players combined on the teams’ rosters saw action in last year’s meetings, so what Felix and Sendek said does hold some truth. Even with all the new players on both sides who will get their first experience in the rivalry, both teams are vastly improved from a year ago.
The Sun Devils, with their 14-3 record, have already surpassed their win total from last season. The Wildcats (15-1) come into the game ranked seventh in the nation after having peaked at third in the AP Poll. Last season, Arizona was ranked as high as 15th in the nation in November, but failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for only the second time since 1984.
Saturday afternoon’s contest, which can be heard on Arizona Sports 620, is sold out — which has become a rarity for Sun Devil home games.
“It’s exciting man,” Felix said. “Playing in front of a sold-out crowd, I think any kid, any young adult would be excited to do this because you’re on the big stage.”
The Sun Devils have had the upper hand in the rivalry over the last five seasons, winning seven of the 11 matchups, including a 3-2 record at Wells Fargo Arena.
“Both teams are going to want it,” Felix said. “It’s definitely going to be a fun, exciting game.”