Saturdays basketball version of the Territorial Cup was being played up as the most anticipated Arizona/Arizona State rivalry game of the past 10 years. The Sun Devils had surpassed expectations thus far (14-3, 3-1) and excitement was growing in Tempe. Arizona, No. 7 in the country, marked the highest-ranked opponent to play at ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena in the past five years. (Let’s just say ASU’s scheduling leaves a lot to be desired). With one of the best players in the conference, freshman Jahii Carson, the Sun Devils believed they were primed for an upset…and then the ball was tipped.
Someone forgot to tell Sean Miller and his Wildcats what an epic battle this was suppose to be and just how amazing this ASU team is. The Cats came out composed and energized. They played team basketball, buckled down on defense and reminded the Sun Devils that Arizona is Wildcats country in an impressive 71-54 win. I will admit that Carson is a special talent (why he chose Arizona State is beyond me) but Arizona was clearly the best team out there and it wasn’t even that close. The depth, the coaching, the passion and the skill-level all favored Arizona.
My Stamp of Approval goes to Arizona’s team defense. This was possibly the most complete defensive performance the team has played all year. The Sun Devils simply could not compete, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting just 39% from the floor. Arizona completely shut down the Sun Devils second-leading scorer, Carrick Felix, who ended with 5 points on 1-of-8 shooting. They also managed to get Carson in foul trouble which proved to be huge in the second half.
A Stamp of Approval shout-out has to go to Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson and Soloman Hill. The three Wildcats combined for 56 points…two more points than the entire ASU team. With everyone talking about ASU’s “Big 3,” it was nice to see the Wildcats show them the real “Big 3.”