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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Bobby Hurley awakened the beast in Arizona

Simon Asher

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley argues with an official in McKale Center on January 12. The Sun Devils fell to the Wildcats 91-75. 

When No. 16 Arizona was leading the ASU Sun Devils 42-18 in the first half and the Zona Zoo was chanting ASU head coach Bobby Hurley’s name, it was like a scene out of a movie.

You know, where the record player scratch sound hits and there’s a freeze frame of Hurley rubbing his head in distraught. Then the opening line is, “Yep that’s me. You are probably wondering how I got here?” Well all it took was one comment to put him and the Sun Devils in that position.

Looking back on last week’s matchup with Utah, Arizona was looking to complete a sweep and call it a week. It wasn’t anything special, just a typical week at the office for the Wildcats.

ASU came off an emotional win against Colorado and a camera caught Hurley motivating his team to get rest and prepare for the next week, “because if anyone wants to win here, then they better go down to fucking Tucson.”

Hurley said earlier this week that the comment wasn’t a target at Arizona or head coach Sean Miller in particular, but just a method to hype his team up.The only issue is that ASU still had a game with Utah, which the Sun Devils lost, and on top of all of it, the Wildcats have won six consecutive matchups.

As a second-year head coach, was it really smart for Hurley to make those remarks? Arizona normally treated the clash with its in-state foe just like any other game regardless of the bragging rights at stake.

I enjoyed Hurley’s comments and tip my cap to him, because it took some guts for him to motivate his team to beat Arizona, who usually has been the bully older brother throughout history. It was an electric way to stir the pot and create some buzz going into the game for fans and even for the media, because who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing a bunch of college students chant “F–k you Bobby!”

Kadeem Allen said last week that the Wildcats weren’t phased by his comments and their play will do the talking.

The Wildcats opened up the game with a 14-2 lead and never looked back. The first half against the Sun Devils was without a doubt the best open to a half that Arizona has posted this season.

“No matter where you are playing on the road, you want to get your feet under you. I tried to flip it in the huddle telling my guys ‘you have to fight the whole game and we are going to climb back into it’,” Hurley said. “And we did, but we never got to a margin where we could out significant pressure on Arizona.”

RELATED: Arizona cruises over Hurley, Sun Devils 91-75

At the first timeout, senior Dusan Ristic had 9 points and three offensive rebounds. Kobi Simmons had a down week against Colorado and Utah with 11 points on only one made three-pointer, but he started feeling it from beyond the arc against the Sun Devils, connecting on three shots from deep.

What truly sent the message was when Rawle Alkins caught two alley-oop passes from Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen in the first half. Those two plays alone rocked McKale Center. Alkins’ pair of dunks was the only field goals made for him, but he invigorated an already hostile environment.

I give credit to ASU, because in the second half the Sun Devils started knocking down three-pointers and cutting the deficit to an uncomfortable margin of 12, but their 10 three-pointers in the second half weren’t enough.

Arizona, who went into the game averaging 14 per game,finished the game with 25 assists, and they out-rebounded the Sun Devils 38-22.

“The coaches express that a lot in practice to share the ball, from one side to the second side to the third side,” Allen said. “I feel like once we get the ball to that fourth side, we are a very good team and it is hard to defend us.”

Lauri Markkanen finished with a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds, and the Wildcats led for 39:45. The other 15 seconds was Arizona setting up its offense.

“[Lauri Markkanen] is all business; there is no screwing around with him,” Miller said. “He never compromises that.”

At the end of the day, Arizona won another lopsided game against ASU 91-75, and we should all just take the time to thank Hurley for adding some spice to the rivalry.

I’ve never seen the Zona Zoo attack former ASU head coach Herb Sendek or even James Harden that aggressively. Maybe Hurley should take Allen’s advice and let the play do the talking, because the Sun Devils brought a whole different animal out in Arizona. 

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter

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