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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA must defeat the Devils’ defense

The year 2007 is significant in the ASU — Arizona rivalry.

In 2007, then-Xavier head coach Sean Miller saw his No. 17 Musketeers fall to the Sun Devils in Tempe, marking the rise of a once-lowly ASU hoops program. And, in 2007, ASU head coach Herb Sendek led the Sun Devils past Arizona for the first time during his tenure, starting a five-game streak which Miller hopes to extinguish Saturday.

“”It was a tough defense,”” Miller said of playing ASU during Sendek’s first years as coach. “”Where I would give it the most credit is they’re always on the same page.””

The Sun Devils (14-5, 4-2 Pacific 10 Conference) implement an oddball, match-up zone defense that has given up a nation-low 54.7 points per game. In Sendek’s fourth year at the helm, ASU comes into Saturday’s game on a four-game winning streak during which their defense has yet to give up more than 57 points.

“”I think he’s taken pride in having a style that is unique,”” Miller said of his former co-worker.

But the Sun Devils aren’t only playing ugly, low-scoring games. Their offense has been clicking, helping them do more than grind out wins en route to a 17.4 average scoring margin during their last four games.

ASU won’t turn the ball over much, nor will they show a surplus of athleticism. Instead, the Sun Devils will rely upon playing smart basketball and staying within the system that Sendek has successfully taught.

“”This is a big game for our fans. This is a big game for our team,”” Miller said of his first taste of the Arizona rivalry. “”The way you make every one of those people proud: to play with great energy, emotion and effort.””

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