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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No. 5 Arizona MBB takes on ASU in rivalry weekend matchup

Giacomo Cain
The Arizona men’s basketball bench celebrate after Pelle Larsson makes a 3-pointer against Southern University in McKale Center on Monday, Nov. 13. The Wildcats have won the first three games of the season.

The No. 5 Arizona men’s basketball team is set to host a rivalry matchup against ASU on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in McKale Center. The Wildcats (19-5, 10-3 in Pac-12) are returning home after back-to-back roadtrip wins against the University of Utah where Arizona won 105-99 in triple-overtime and against the University of Colorado as Arizona won 99-79. Arizona looks to extend its winning streak to six in the weekend matchup.

History vs. ASU

Saturday will mark the 245th meeting between Arizona and ASU as the Wildcats comfortably lead the series record 157-87. The first meeting between the two programs dates back to 1913 where Arizona won 41-17. The rivalry has continued between the schools that meet on a consistent basis as the most recent meeting occurred on March 10, 2023 as the Wildcats secured a 78-59 victory over the Sun Devils.

ASU players to watch

Head coach Bobby Hurley leads the Sun Devils and recently signed a two-year contract extension in 2023 that will keep Hurley through the 2025-26 season. ASU currently boasts a 13-12 record this season but are 3-5 when on the road. The Sun Devils are notably coming off two wins against the University of Utah and Oregon State University after losing five in a row.

Frankie Collins is the first player to watch for the Sun Devils as he brings value to different areas of the game for ASU. The junior guard is the Sun Devils leading scorer, averaging 13.7 points per game. Collins additionally leads the team in assists, putting up a stat line of 3.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and adds in 2.9 steals per game. While Collins may be resourceful with the ball, the guard is also averaging 2.7 turnovers a game, this part of his game was seen most recently in their game against Oregon State, Collins scored 14 points but piled on four turnovers.

Jamiya Neal is another resourceful player to watch for as he leads ASU in rebounding, grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-6 junior is the team’s third leading scorer, putting up 11.7 ppg and 1.8 assists. Neal had a heavy impact on the Sun Devils most recent wins, leading the team to victory against Oregon State scoring 21 points and blocking two shots. Neal’s free throw shooting ability has declined in recent games as he’s made five of his last ten and averages 67.3% made shots from the free throw line.

Jose Perez plays a significant role for the Sun Devils as the second leading scorer, averaging 12.9 ppg. Perez recently led the team with 21 points, four rebounds and two steals in a victory against Utah to break a five-game losing streak ASU was on. Perez additionally put up a game-high 26 points against Utah earlier in the year on Thursday, Jan. 4 going 4-5 from beyond the arc. The guard averages 2.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and shoots 73.1% from the free throw line.

Arizona players to watch

Pelle Larsson continues to be a staple piece for Arizona, scoring over double-digits in all but five games this season. The senior guard recently achieved a career-high 27 points in the win over Utah. In addition, he also put up eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals in the same game. Larsson is the Wildcats second leading scorer, averaging 13.4 ppg, 3.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds.

Former Tar-Heel from the University of North Carolina, Caleb Love, remains the leading scorer for the Wildcats offense, averaging 18.9 points per game. Love led Arizona the win against Colorado, leading the team with 19 points. Against Utah, the guard grabbed 10 rebounds, the most he has had this season, to add to his 19 points after going 5-20 on field goal shots for the night. Alongside his points, Love averages 3.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Arizona center Oumar Ballo remains consistent as a dominant player on the defensive end of the ball for the team. The 7-footer leads the team in rebounding with 9.8 rebounds per game. The senior has achieved a double-double in his last four games, reaching 16 rebounds against Utah, the most he has had since a career-high 21 rebounds against former No. 14 Florida Atlantic University earlier in the season. Ballo has seen improvement in his scoring as he is still the Wildcats third leading scorer but currently averages 13 ppg and one assist.

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