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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona men’s basketball travels to Tempe for matchup with rivals

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett
Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat

Arizona men’s basketball travels to rival ASU on Saturday looking to extend its win streak and avenge its rare loss to the Sun Devils last season.

The No. 6 Wildcats (20-2, 8-1 Pac-12 Conference) look to sweep the season series against ASU (11-11, 3-6) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on Fox. Arizona beat the Sun Devils 73-49 last month but lost 69-66 in double overtime in Tempe on Feb. 14, 2014.

“Coach [Sean] Miller always is passionate about playing Arizona State, and these two games are the ones that he wants to win more than any of them,” guard Gabe York said.

Arizona owns the all-time series against its instate rivals 146-81, is 60-31 against ASU in Tempe and has won four of its last five against the Sun Devils. However, the Sun Devils are 8-10 against the Wildcats under coach Herb Sendek and Miller is 9-4 against ASU.

“It’s being focused, but also having it in the back of our mind that obviously we know that we’re playing Arizona State and we know how great of a rivalry this game is, especially when we go up and play over there,” York said.

The game, Miller’s 200th at the UA, could be a milestone win for him, his 150th victory as Arizona coach. Miller is 149-50 in six seasons as UA’s skipper.

ASU started Pac-12 play 0-4 but has since gone 3-2.

“We know that any road game is difficult, especially at ASU, especially a Pac-12 conference game on the road, so we know we’re in for a heck of a battle and we got to be ready,” Miller said.

The Sun Devils are first in the conference in 3-pointers made with 7.64 per game and fourth in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage, with .371. Arizona is 11th in the conference in 3-pointers made, 4.71 a game, and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage, .361.

“When they shoot the ball well, they’re a really good basketball team,” York said.
Miller said the Sun Devils are a better team now that freshman Tra Holder has emerged as their point guard.

“I think they shot about 23 3s a game in conference play, so if they get those types of looks, I think they can beat anybody on a given night, because that shot is so effective and such a separator,” Miller said.

The Wildcats could be short handed as Miller said backup point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright hasn’t practiced since suffering a concussion in the Oregon game. Miller said he didn’t know if Jackson-Cartwright would practice on Thursday afternoon but didn’t think he would and didn’t know his status for ASU.

Miller said York and guard Elliott Pitts will play more minutes if Jackson-Cartwright is out, but forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be the third-string point guard in case the Wildcats get into foul trouble or suffer more injuries.

York said he has been playing point guard with the back ups or third team all year in case, so him playing point guard isn’t that weird, but admitted it was unusual to see Hollis-Jefferson at the one.

“It was a little weird, but at the end of the day, coach really knows what he’s doing, and both me and T.J. thought it was a good idea, so he was good out there,” York said.

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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