ASU’s season still alive in upcoming rivalry game against Arizona

Jan 24, 2020, 6:37 PM

Remy Martin #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts against the Georgia Bulldogs during the secon...

Remy Martin #1 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half of the NCAAB game at Desert Financial Arena on December 14, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Bulldogs 79-59. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. – When Arizona State faces the Arizona Wildcats Saturday, the basketball rivalry on its own will put an electric charge through the crowd at Desert Financial Arena.

But for the Sun Devils, it’s a must-win game no matter what the atmosphere is like.

“We know that it’s going to be a battle in there,” ASU coach Bobby Hurley said Thursday. “I’m excited that Romello (White) is at full strength, and hopefully he’ll be who he normally is. But it’s a collective thing. They (the Wildcats) have great size around the basket and a lot of talent.”

White, a top forward, struggled against the Wildcats earlier this month, missing all three of his field goal attempts and both free throw attempts in just over 23 minutes of play. Collectively, the Sun Devils showed a lag that manifested throughout their offense that resulted in a 28-game loss. The Sun Devils were bad at the free-throw, making just eight of 19 attempts, and worse from the 3-point arc, connecting on three of their 21 attempts, a dismal 14-percent.

“You look at each game as its own entity,” Hurley said. “That’s how I’m looking at this particular game. There’s been a lot of craziness going on this year across the board in college basketball, and when you are done with your game, you just have to let it go and think about the next one.

“So, I don’t think we’re really dwelling on the first game or what the score was. I don’t think that’s going to have much of a factor on Saturday night.”

But there will be one crucial factor.

The Sun Devils face the task of trying to limit three Wildcats who are among Pac-12 statisical leaders. Freshman guard Nico Mannion is leading the Pac-12 with 6.1 assists per game. Guard Josh Green is seventh with 1.6 steals per game. And freshman forward Zeke Nnaji ranks ninth in the league at 16.7 points per game.

Meanwhile, the Sun Devils are now working with a healthier Romello but freshman guard Jaelen House is listed as day-to-day dealing and in concussion protocol. Guard Remy Martin continues to boast his teammates while riding a streak of six games in which he has scored 20 points or more.

But Martin needs help and is counting on White to provide it.

“The way he’s (White) been playing and the way he’s been very unselfish in passing the ball out … he’s ready,” Martin said. “He’s been practicing really well, so we’ll all be ready to fight and give you guys a good one.”

He also singled out teammate Taeshon Cherry.

“Taeshon, he’s been hitting his shots in practice,” Martin added. “He’s been playing hard on the defensive end, getting a little bit smarter on the defensive end (and) paying attention on little details a lot of guys don’t focus on. He’s doing a tremendous job of locking in and making sure he switches when needed.”

With ASU (2-3, 11-7) well into the thick of the Pac-12 Conference race, a Sun Devils win against the Wildcats (3-2, 13-5) would be a crucial push of momentum into next week’s winnable games on the road at Washington State (3-4, 12-8) and Washington (2-5, 12-8).

“It’s a very winnable game (and) the conference is how it is right now,” Martin said. “It’s everybody beating each other. This will be a great win for us to kind of get us going. I think that once we get going and once we rack up a couple wins, it’s going to be hard for us to deal with. Because the success that comes with winning, some of the guys have never felt that before. So once that happens, we are going to be very hard to deal with.”

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.

2 years ago

Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...

Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.

3 years ago

(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...

Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.

3 years ago

New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...

Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.

3 years ago

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...

Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

3 years ago

Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...

Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.

3 years ago

ASU’s season still alive in upcoming rivalry game against Arizona