By the numbers: A look back at Round 1 between ASU, Arizona
The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats meet Monday night in Tucson for Game 2 of their in-state back-to-back.
And after Thursday night’s battle ended in a Wildcats win at the buzzer, the latest installment of the rivalry couldn’t come soon enough.
Before the two squads tip things off in the Old Pueblo, let’s take a gander at some of the numbers that stood out from Arizona’s 84-82 victory.
Be sure to tune to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station at 9 p.m. for all the action.
The final 9.8 seconds of Thursday night’s meeting proved to be the most important. Senior guard Remy Martin drove the lane and attempted to lay it in for the dagger tied up at 82-82.
Instead, the guard was met in the paint by Arizona freshman big man Azuolas Tubelis, who forced a Martin miss and cleaned up an errant James Akinjo 3-pointer for a Wildcats win.
The sequence wasn’t without debate, however, as ASU head coach Bobby Hurley believed Martin was fouled on his shot attempt.
“I thought that Remy Martin — after watching it live and then watching it on film again after — clearly was fouled by a player in the restricted area. That player did not leave his feet, he was contacted, his arms did not go straight up and the guy should have been whistled a foul and put on the free-throw line,” Hurley said postgame.
“So you’re talking about a guy that is as decorated a player in this conference as it’s seen that goes to the hoop in a critical moment in the game and they swallow their whistles. And that kid goes, gets knocked on his (expletive) and obviously they went down and scored and the rest is history tonight.”
Hurley was reprimanded by the Pac-12 a day later for his public comments on the officiating.
After being down by as many as 11 and scoring just 30 points in the first half, the Sun Devils bounced back in the final 20 minutes, tallying 52 points in the second half.
It marks the most points scored by the Sun Devils in the second half all season, surpassing their 46-point mark against Rhode Island in the season opener.
“Our defense is not as good as our offense,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller told reporters after the game. “We’re hard at work to make it better, it has to get better, but sometimes you just have to figure out a way to get a win almost in spite of our defense.
“That is really the story of tonight’s game. ASU had their way with us, especially in the second half. Hopefully, we can be better when we play Monday.”
ASU’s highest point total for a half so far this season is 65 in first half against Houston Baptist.
Akinjo had his hands all over the game, draining five of his nine 3-pointers (55.5%).
The guard was quick on the trigger Thursday night, firing off back-to-back treys to help the Wildcats jump out to an early 13-5 lead. He would add another from deep in the first half before draining two more in the second half.
The junior’s 24 points led all scorers. Akinjo also added a rebound and three assists in 36 minutes.
Not far behind Akinjo was the Sun Devil duo of Martin and freshman guard Josh Christopher, who scored 18 points apiece in the Sun Devils’ loss.
Christopher also chipped in five rebounds, three steals and a block, while Martin registered three rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Despite the loss, Hurley acknowledged the improvement he is seeing on the offensive side of the basketball.
“This is more of what my vision was for our team this year, having the players that we had on the floor tonight and doing some of the things we were able to do,” Hurley said. “And we did that after having a stretch of not playing great offense in the first half.”
While the result was not in their favor, the Sun Devils did tie a season high for blocks in a game with six. Sophomore forward Jalen Graham, who made his return to the hardwood after missing the previous three games due to contracting mononucleosis, led ASU with three blocks. He and Arizona sophomore center Christian Koloko (3) paced all defenders.
Graham added 10 points, two rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes.
Both the Sun Devils and Wildcats finished the game with 11 makes each from 3-point land.
Arizona was a hair more efficient, however, making 55% of its 3-pointers (5-20) compared to ASU’s 52.5% (11-21).
Additionally, the Wildcats’ largest lead of the contest was by 11 points in the first half (25-14).
The Sun Devils’ largest lead of the night was seven points. They held a 76-69 lead with 4:44 left to play after a Martin 3-pointer capped off a 14-0 run for ASU.
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 35-33 Thursday night.
Arizona did so in the final 2:01 of action, recording the final four rebounds of the game.
“I thought we did a fairly good job defensively all things considered,” Hurley said. “We’re going to give up some threes … We had to try to support the paint and support our frontcourt in the lane.
“But we rebounded well, we had good paint coverage. The way Arizona does rebound, thought we did a great job of hanging in there in the paint.”
After recording 12 turnovers in the first half alone, the Sun Devils cleaned things up in the second, committing just four turnovers. Arizona turned the ball over a total of 14 times throughout the night.