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ASU awaits rivalry game, tries to salvage season

Despite a disappointing and frustrating season, ASU looks to salvage a small victory over rival and Pac-10 leaders Arizona.

ASU has endured a spat of injuries and the growing pains of a young team this season, posting a 1-10 conference record and 9-14 overall record, placing them in the basement of the Pac-10.

“It’s just crazy to think about, it’s something I think about all the time,” senior guard Ty Abbott said.

“We made strides, we had a bunch of steps forward and then took a giant leap back. Something I definitely didn’t think was going to happen.”

However, a rivalry game win could boost the Sun Devils’ spirits after an early season loss in Tucson 80-69.

The teams split the series last year, with the Wildcats winning in Tempe 77-58 and the Sun Devils winning in Tucson 73-69.

The Wildcats have talent at every position this year, including Derrick Williams, who Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek called one of the best in the nation, is averaging 19.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this year.

Williams scored 31 in the first meeting between the two teams.

“They were talented last year, they’re talented this year,” ASU senior guard Jamelle McMillan said.

“They play well and positions one through five, they got guys that come in who are threats, they can score with the basketball, they defend and they are very well coached.”

ASU has been competitive in the last four games, losing by a combined 15 points, but is still struggling to pull out wins.

They have also dealt with injuries to key players. Five players missed practice on Monday, including Abbott, who is averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

In contrast, U of A is on a season-high five game winning streak, the longest streak under head coach Sean Miller.

McMillan said he has seen improvement, but also thinks the team can’t settle on just improving or dwell on the season.

“I just think it is going to take one (game) for these guys,” McMillan said.

“If you can get one and get that thing sparked, it can have some carry-over and teams have been known to get on a roll, especially late in the season.”

Sports 620 KTAR’s Craig Grialou contributed to this report

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