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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats ready for first clash with rival Sun Devils

Courtney Talak

Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) goes for the layup while playing against ASU in McKale Center on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. Allen scored 12 points against the Sun Devils.

According to Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, when teams travel to Arizona for a road series, “they better go to fucking Tucson,” if they want to win.

He and the Sun Devils will get their chance on Thursday night.

Hurley made those comments while addressing his team last week after they defeated the Colorado Buffaloes 78-77 with a pair of late free throws that sealed their second Pac-12 Conference victory.

The Sun Devils fell to the Utah Utes two nights later, dropping them to 9-8 overall (2-2 Pac-12).

The Wildcats scored a second consecutive sweep to open up conference play with a 66-56 victory against the Utes and an 82-73 victory against Colorado.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller said that Hurley’s comments don’t bother him and that as a head coach, sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get your team motivated.

“I don’t think he meant [the comments] in a derogatory fashion towards our program or things here in Tucson as much as making sure that his guys believe in themselves,” Miller said. “In today’s world the behind the scenes things can really be misunderstood and I think this is a classic example of that.”

Miller is expected to downplay this type of story, but in today’s age with social media, it’s always safe to assume the entire locker room has seen the video as well.

“We all saw it,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “It’s just one of those things, you just got to brush it off. It’s not like it’s the end of the world; it doesn’t really affect anything that we do basketball wise. We saw it, we took notice to it, we’ll be ready to go Thursday.”

While those comments may stoke the fire, there will be no shortage of motivation on either side for the in-state rivalry.

After splitting the season series with the Sun Devils in 2013 and 2014, last year’s team swept the home-and-home series giving the Wildcats a 77-61 record against the Sun Devils since the 1949-1950 season.

Former Sun Devil head coach Herb Sendek was always able to give the Wildcats all they could handle in Tempe, including home victories there in 2013 and 2014, but Hurley struggled in both matchups with the Wildcats last season.

Hurley was always known as a fierce competitor during his playing days at Duke University, and has displayed the same type of intensity as a head coach. Hurley was ejected during the game in Tempe last year, during the Wildcats 94-82 victory.

The two coaches have crossed paths before, and Miller is plenty familiar with Hurley’s style.

“I know him, I know where he’s from, how he’s wired,” Miller said. “That’s what made him such a terrific player.”

Arizona is currently at the top of the Pac-12 Conference at 4-0, and if those games weren’t important enough already, a victory over the Sun Devils would put the Wildcats in the Pac-12 driver’s seat. They could potentially come out of Los Angeles with a two-game conference edge over the fourth-ranked UCLA Bruins.

Hurley was right about one thing. On Thursday night, there will be one team in “fucking Tucson” to come out with a victory.

Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter.

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