A matchup with the ninth-ranked team in the nation probably couldn’t come at a worse time for the Arizona State men’s basketball program, but there is some hope on the horizon.
That’s because ASU has held its ground relatively well against top-10 teams at Wells Fargo Arena ever since Herb Sendek took over the coaching reins.
After last February’s thrilling double-overtime victory over then-second-ranked Arizona, the Sun Devils improved to 2-3 against top-10 teams at home under Sendek, who joined the program in 2006. In the pre-Sendek era, ASU was just 7-26 at home against top-10 programs.
On Thursday, the Sun Devils host No. 9 Utah, which is 13-2 (3-0 Pac-12) and on a six-game winning streak. The Utes are led by senior guard Delon Wright, whose 14.9 points, 5.7 assists and 2.4 steals per game are tops on the team.
Sendek’s group, meanwhile, has lost three straight and has fallen to 8-8 overall. The Devils have come up short in six consecutive Pac-12 games dating back to last season. The silver lining, though, is that they protect home court well: 8-1 so far this season.
The two programs split their season series in 2013-14, as ASU won 79-75 at home on Jan. 23 but was blown out 86-63 in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23.
Utah will be just the third top-10 team to visit Wells Fargo Arena over the past seven seasons — the others being the 2014 and the 2013 iterations of the Arizona Wildcats. The Utes will be the first top-10 team not named Arizona or UCLA to play in Tempe since the Sun Devils beat No. 7 Stanford in overtime on Feb. 14, 2008.
The Utes and Devils tip off at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and broadcast on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.