The 5: Bobby Hurley’s five losses against rival Arizona
Bobby Hurley has turned around Arizona State’s men’s basketball program, having the Sun Devils trending upward in the future as a legitimate force in the Pac-12.
His accomplishments have been notable, but one box he has yet to check is beating rival Arizona.
Hurley is 0-5 against Sean Miller’s Wildcats, and Thursday he’s looking at his best chance yet to get his first win.
With the big-time matchup coming up soon, let’s take a look back at those first five games.
Jan. 3, 2016: Hurley ejected late, Sun Devils come up short
In what has been a theme for the games in Tempe, the Sun Devils kept it close. They led the game 28-19 in the first half and still managed to be down just 41-35 after a 14-0 Arizona run to go into halftime.
Even after the Wildcats pulled away to a 16-point lead, ASU battled to get it down to 81-75 before coming up short 94-82.
Hurley was ejected in that game and said afterward he didn’t regret how he carried himself.
In a sign of things to come for his Sun Devil career, Tra Holder was the game’s high scorer, posting 24 points while adding three rebounds and four assists. The Wildcats had every starter score in double digits, with senior Gabe York’s 22 leading the way.
Feb. 17, 2016: ASU falls to Arizona in lopsided loss
It was ugly for Hurley in his first trip to Tucson.
After starting the year 10-3, the team went 4-10 after the first meeting with the Wildcats in Tempe.
This one was a whole lot worse for his team, a 99-61 blowout. The Wildcats scored 61 points in the second half alone, equaling what the Sun Devils put up in the entire game.
ASU only shot 32 percent from the field and were outrebounded 50-26. For the second straight time in the rivalry, Allonzo Trier managed at least 20 points, shooting 5-of-11 to finish with 20.
Jan. 12, 2017: Sun Devils can’t contain Lauri Markkanen
The 91-75 Wildcats win was the beginning of one of Miller’s terrific freshmen taking over in his face-off with Hurley.
The Sun Devils couldn’t stop Lauri Markkanen, as the Finnish freshman scored 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting and his team shot 57 percent from the field.
Once again, rebounding was a big factor, as the Sun Devils got dominated 36-21 on the glass.
Some great individual offensive performances for Hurley’s squad kept them in what would have been another blowout in Tucson.
Obinna Oleka had 22 points and nine rebounds, Holder scored 20 and Torian Graham added 18 off the bench.
Mar. 4, 2017: Wildcats complete season sweep
The second Hurley vs. Miller matchup in Tempe was another tight game, at least in the first half.
The Sun Devils trailed 30-29 at halftime, a half in which Markkanen was limited to just four minutes.
A quick 14-3 run by the Wildcats, however, erased the momentum in Tempe and Hurley’s seven-man rotation couldn’t keep up. ASU would shoot another low percentage, 35 percent, but Arizona didn’t do much better at 39 percent.
Trier couldn’t quite crack 20 points but posted 19 on 5-of-14 shooting while Kodi Justice was the high scorer for ASU with 17 points.
To continue our main theme of this matchup, we point at the glass as the difference in this one. The Wildcats nearly doubled the Sun Devils, topping them 46-25 in rebounding.
Dec. 30, 2017: ASU has no answer for Deandre Ayton
The most hyped up game of the rivalry’s history, and rightfully so.
ASU entered the game as the country’s last unbeaten while Arizona desperately needed a big win to start conference play after dropping three straight games in the Bahamas.
Despite Holder being the best guard on the court and dropping 31 points on 12 shots, the Sun Devils simply had no way to stop the best player on the court, Deandre Ayton.
Even with Hurley having some size to deploy in the matchup unlike previous years, Ayton still managed a monstrous 23 points and 19 rebounds in Arizona’s 84-78 victory.
ASU clawed their way to an even rebounding split and emphasized through multiple comebacks that their then-No. 3 ranking was legit.
Ayton’s and-one dunk with 15:21 left in the second half made it a 52-41 edge for Arizona in what had been a back-and-forth game. This would have been the point in most of these games where the Wildcats would have taken control for the remainder of the half, but this was not a similar Sun Devils squad.
ASU would prove their offensive firepower was for real, going on a 22-12 run in under eight minutes to make it a one-point game.
It would happen again when Ayton’s and-one with 4:11 left made it 76-64 Wildcats, but ASU brought it down to a one-possession game at 2:18 with Holder’s jumper, again at 1:17 with Justice’s 3-pointer and one more time with Holder’s free throws at 11 seconds remaining.
Ultimately, Holder didn’t have enough help, even with freshman Remy Martin proving he’s a big-game player. While Martin had 11 points and four rebounds, Shannon Evans shot 3-for-14 and Justice was 2-for-9.
Sun Devils fans left the game optimistic.
Those runs and their overall level of play showed they were for real, and that result was with them shooting 38 percent and 8-of 25 from 3-point range.
With a sold-out crowd in what will surely be the loudest Wells Fargo Arena ever on Thursday, Hurley’s first win over the school down south is closer than it ever has been before.
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