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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Healing through hoops


Sports have always been known to bring people together during tragedy.

With rival ASU coming to McKale Center on Saturday, sports will play a small role in helping the Tucson community heal from its recent heartbreak.

The Tucson community comes together during rivalry games against the Sun Devils, in any sport. Saturday’s early afternoon game may bring that bond closer than ever before.

“”One thing that is evident to all of us as we watch this whole tragedy unfold, it’s amazing how the University of Arizona, as a whole, is the centerpiece of Tucson,”” said head coach Sean Miller. “”Hopefully the people who are fans — the community — have something that can take their minds off things, in a small way.””

Arizona players want to win on Saturday to give the community something to cheer for, but at the same time break a three-game losing streak to the Sun Devils in McKale Center. No one is more amped than Jamelle Horne, who has never beaten ASU at home.

“”I think that’s one of things I want to add to my list of accomplishments as a senior,”” Horne said. “”I want to finally get a win.””

It would be a positive for Horne, who has had a somewhat disappointing senior year to this point — resulting in the senior being taken out of the starting line-up the last five games in favor of junior forward Jesse Perry.

Despite what is considered, by most, a disappointing season, Horne is coming off stellar performances, contributing 16 points and 12 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 67-57 win against Stanford on Wednesday, while Perry went scoreless in only eight minutes of play.

After Horne’s double-double performance, the question becomes: should Perry or Horne start against the Sun Devils?

“”I don’t look at that as a big decision,”” Miller said. “”What we’re trying to accomplish is to have Jesse Perry play his best and have Jamelle Horne play his best.

Last season the Wildcats won in a 77-58 blowout in their first meeting against the Sun Devils in Wells Fargo Arena but fell to ASU during the rematch in McKale Center where Sun Devil guard Ty Abbott went for 28 points in a 73-69 win for the Sun Devils.

Miller’s teams have had a tough time containing Abbott dating back to his days at Xavier. On December 15, 2007, then-freshman Abbott, led the Sun Devil’s with 19 points in a 77-55 rout of Miller’s then-No.17 ranked Xavier team.

“”The first time I coached against him I was at Xavier. He was a freshman, I can remember him having a really big night from 3,”” Miller said. “”I remember saying that’s a great shooter and he was a freshman then.  

“”Now he’s a fourth-year player that’s had a great career.””

ASU (9-7,1-3) has been inconsistent all season due to several injuries to notable players such a guard Jamelle McMillan, who has missed the last three games due to a groin injury. McMillan is questionable for Saturday’s game.

“”You get that feeling that that haven’t had their entire lineup daily to build that consistency,”” Miller said. “”They’re, maybe, going to have their full team and they’re a dangerous team.””

Miller understands that the Sun Devils are getting their first chance at being at full strength and that could bring out their best basketball.

“”Arizona State’s best basketball is yet to come,”” he said. “”Hopefully we don’t let that start here on Saturday.””

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