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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Commentary: Nothing more than a victory

TEMPE — Momo Jones called it the biggest game of the season, essentially making it the biggest win of the season.

It’s a claim that is highly unlikely to withstand this cluster some call the Pacific 10 Conference.

It’s a conference in which parody has become cliché, upsets are invalid and nobody keeps track of places or rankings.

It’s a win carrying only one value: Better odds not to play the Pac-10 Tournament play-in game.

Statistically, that’s all that matters now.

Mentally, the Wildcats are growing up.

“”We’re not young anymore,”” UA junior Jamelle Horne said. “”Put that in the newspaper.””

Naturally, breaking a five-game losing streak against your first-place rivals merits more than just a ‘W’ right? Those subconscious psychological barriers that linger around in press conferences — questions about maturity and confidence — a 77-58 win like Saturday night’s improves those, right?

“”Absolutely not. Absolutely not,”” Horne said. “”We came into our season with a goal to get better every game, every weekend. And we have.””

Nope, nobody would admit it.

UA coach Sean Miller, quickly evolving into The Cliché Machine, stayed numb to any external growths in confidence, aggressiveness or the rivalry itself.

“”To make this any bigger than a win for our team would be foolish,”” Miller said.

But what about the rivalry and breaking a five-game losing streak?

“”It doesn’t mean a lot,”” Miller said.

But it’s a rivalry, right?

“”Every Pac-10 game is an important one. As long as we played extremely hard, we’ll deal with the consequence, win or lose,”” said Miller, yet to recognize the importance of this game.

Miller and his staff are from the east coast, and the only in-state players are D.J. Shumpert and Brendon Lavender.

Only Nic Wise is old enough for this rivalry to have grown on him, and only a freshman is young enough to put some emotion into a post-game press conference.

“”He didn’t want to go out on a losing streak,”” freshman Derrick Williams said of Wise. “”He wanted to change that. Go out on top. That’s what we’re trying to do here.””

Wells Fargo Arena began a vintage early exodus with under 6 minutes remaining, leading to “”Ari-zona”” chants echoing in the buttes and waves goodbye from the Wildcat Faithful.

Just minutes earlier, Kevin Parrom threw down an Aubrey Coleman, momentum-bursting takedown which could’ve easily swung in the Sun Devils’ favor.

ASU’s Ty Abbott went up for an easy basket against a guy from Bronx, N.Y., where there are no easy buckets.

“”ASWho ?!?!? I’m From Tha Bronx New York .. No Easy Buckets !!!”” said Parrom on Twitter.

Parrom took down Abbott with a hard foul, leading to a near-brawl. Miller ran onto the court to protect his players and diffuse the tension. Fans wanted him T’d up. The referee escorted them back to the bench.

Somehow water bottles didn’t fly during these tense moments. Parrom received his fourth (personal) and fifth (technical) fouls and then walked over to the bench for a pep talk with fellow New Yorker Jones.

UA went on a 9-2 run and never looked back.

“”We love to see Kev (Parrom) not give up an easy basket,”” Horne said. “”We hate to see a hard foul like that and the refs taking it that kind of way. When he came out, he told us to stick with it. ‘Don’t let me being out change the game.'””

Kyle Fogg added: “”He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but it got kind of crazy down there. We just brought it in. The momentum could’ve swung either way.””

Now the Sun Devils will have to wait another year for as intense an atmosphere and big a game as Saturday’s.

Friday morning, outside ASU’s W. P. Carey Business School, hundreds of students scrambled to their next class or lunch at the nearby Memorial Union wearing yellow and maroon t-shirts. The game was more than 24 hours away, debunking some common stereotypes:

Yes, they attend classes on Friday.

Yes, they care about basketball.

The first-place Sun Devils played in front of a sold-out Wells Fargo Arena with the least amount of red in recent memory.

Students lined up early and filled the section better than the Zona Zoo.

Maybe this could’ve caught on. It looked promising for a few days.

“”There will be only 10 fans next week against Cal,”” predicted ASU’s State Press basketball writer Andrew Gruman, confirming the fair weather nature of Sun Devil fans after a loss to the Wildcats.

Back to normal in Tempe.

—Bryan Roy can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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