TEMPE, Ariz. — Bobby Hurley knows high-level rivalries.
Duke-North Carolina comes to mind.
Hurley played in 10 of those games, winning half while helping Duke to two national championships and three Final Four appearances from 1989-93.
His second trip to Arizona on Thursday could provide more drama.
“If anyone wants to win here, they better go to (expletive) Tucson,” Hurley told his team in the locker room after its 78-77 victory over Colorado last Thursday.
It was a reference to holding home court, and the kind of thing that every coach stresses when conference play begins.
It was neither a shot at the UA nor at Tucson, but that probably will not stop some from using it that way when the teams meet in McKale Center on Thursday.
“Those comments were not directed at Arizona,” Hurley said. “If our partner was USC, then I would have said ‘Go to LA’ if you want to try to get a win. It was my way to motivate my team to try to do a better job of winning league games at home.
“I rarely lost as a player when teams came to Cameron Indoor (Stadium). Our record was very strong at home in Buffalo. Just wanted to get through to the guys how vital it is in league play to win your home games. It is hard to win games on the road.”
It is extremely hard to win in Tucson, where the Wildcats have won 63 of 64, their lone loss to Oregon last year. No. 16 Arizona (15-2, 2-0) has won 18 of the last 21 games played against ASU (9-8, 2-2) in McKale Center. The Sun Devils’ last win in Tucson was 73-69 on Feb. 21, 2010, and their last victory against a ranked Arizona team in Tucson was in the final regular-season game of 1995, a 103-98 double overtime victory March 11 when the Wildcats were ranked 12th.
Arizona swept the Bay Area schools on the road the first week of conference play and swept the mountain schools last week, while Arizona State split both series.
“I’m looking at this like just another game, and I know when I get there it is going to be crazy,” Hurley said. “There program is in a little different place than ours. We have a lot of catching up to do, and we’re ready to try to put the work in to do that. We have to keep climbing, and that’s where our mindset is.”
Antipathy aside, the atmosphere is something that must be addressed in practice, especially for a place as vocal as McKale. For example, teams often use hand signals to make play calls because voices can be drowned out.
“Just hold it together,” Hurley said. “Just weather the storm with the noise and keep your composure. Try to trust the work you’ve put in.
“We’re not perfect, and we realize that. We’re sacrificing more. With our size, we are doing the best can to defend. Our chemistry is good.”
The five best ASU-UA games of the millennium
Arizona State 69, No. 2 Arizona 66, 2 OT
Tempe, Feb. 14, 2014
Jahii Carson’s exclamation point dunk with 0.7 seconds remaining in the second overtime should have resulted in a technical foul — he chinned himself on the rim, long enough to pay rent — but even that almost certainly would not have changed the outcome.
Going by the poll rankings, it was the biggest victory Sun Devil history. They had never beaten a team ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, the position the Wildcats (23-1) held coming in after having won their first 21 games. The outcome was a stark reversal from the first meeting a month before, when the Wildcats rolled to a 91-68 victory in Tucson.
Guard Jermaine Marshall, who missed the first game with a calf injury, scored 29 points, including two 3-pointers in the second overtime. ASU fans stormed the floor after Carson’s dunk followed a blocked shot by Jordan Bachynski, only to be shepherded back into their seats before Johnson’s 45-footer at the buzzer missed. The victory was enough of a resume-booster to send Arizona State to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five seasons.
Arizona, stocked with potential NBA players Aaron Gordon, T.J. McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Nick Johnson, suffered only its second loss of the season. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA West Regional finals before falling to Wisconsin in overtime. ASU finished 21-12 after losing to Texas in the first round of the NCAAs.
”No words can explain the joy that we feel right now,” ASU center Jordan Bachynski said.
Arizona State 81, No. 6 Arizona 78
Tempe, Feb. 7, 2015
ASU freshman guard Tra Holder spent the night before the game studying video of Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, attempting to learn how Paul handled the constant pressure and double-teams that he had come to face almost every possession.
The lesson? Maintain your dribble and continue to probe.
Holder had 15 points, a season-high eight assists and committed only two turnovers in 36 minutes to lead the Sun Devils to their second consecutive storm-the-court victory at Wells Fargo Arena. Bo Barnes’ 25-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock neared expiration with 52 seconds remaining gave the Sun Devils a 75-68 lead, and the Wildcats never had the ball with a chance to tie after that.
Arizona won the first meeting that year by 24 points, a game in which neither Holder nor Sun Devils power forward Savon Goodman started. Both returned to the lineup in this one.
Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell, matched against Holder, had a career-high 25 points and made 3-of-4 threes, but the other UA starters — NBAers Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson among them — shot only 40 percent.
The Wildcats were 20-2 and ranked No. 6 entering the game and finished the season 34-4, again making it all the way to the West Regional finals before being eliminated by Wisconsin. ASU, 18-16, made the NIT.
“I think this win definitely validates our season,” said forward Savon Goodman, who had 15 points and nine rebounds.
No. 11 Arizona 70, Arizona State 68
Tempe, March 5, 2005
The Wildcats clinched their ninth outright league regular-season title and Lute Olson got his record 305th Pac-12 victory in a game that was not decided until less than a second remained.
Salim Stoudamire’s jumper just inside the free-throw line with 0.6 seconds remaining broke a tie at 68, deciding a game that seemed to have been settled several times earlier. Arizona led by 18 points in the first half and 15 points in the second half.
ASU forward Ike Diogu, the conference’s leading scorer and rebounder, had 25 points, and his two free throws with 48 seconds remaining tied the game at 68. Stoudamire corralled an offensive rebound on Arizona’s next possession, and after a timeout dribbled out the clock before making his final move.
Channing Frye, who won an NBA championship with Cleveland last season, had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (30-7), whose season came to a devastating end in a 90-89 overtime loss to Illinois in the Midwest Regional finals. ASU was 18-14 and lost in the first round of the NIT.
Olson broke a tie with John Wooden for the most conference victories (it was the Pac-10 at the time) in a career.
“Whatever you accomplish with numbers … I haven’t won a game,” Olson said. ”There have been a lot of guys who have put blood, sweat and tears into this thing happening.”
No. 14 Arizona State 70, Arizona 68
Tempe, Feb. 22, 2009
Rihards Kuksiks made five of the Sun Devils’ 13 3-point field goals and James Harden and Jamelle McMillan had three apiece for a victory in a game in which Arizona State almost let a 17-point lead get away.
Kuksiks made two threes in the final three minutes, his shot off a Harden assist tying the game at 68 with 1:18 remaining before Jeff Ayres — known then as Jeff Pendergrah — made two free throws with 26 seconds left for the final margin.
“If he’s open, we want him to take the shot. Usually, we don’t have to twist his arm to do that,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said of Kuksiks, whose 280 3-pointers are second in school history.
Arizona State won its fourth straight game in the series — a streak that grew to five with a victory in the Pac-12 tournament. The Sun Devils had not had a longer winning streak in the series since a nine-gamer through the 1982-83 season. The rivalry took a 180-degree turn when Arizona hired Lute Olson the following year as the Wildcats won 43 of the next 49 in the series.
Each team brought a stable of NBA players into the game led by Harden, who left school after that year and was the No. 3 pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger were the UA’s starting forwards, and Hill was the eighth player taken in the drat that year.
Both teams made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, Arizona State beating Tempe and falling to Syracuse and Arizona beating Utah and Cleveland State before falling to Louisville.
Arizona State 64, Arizona 59 (ot)
Tempe, Jan. 10, 2008
Freshman James Harden began his personal five-game winning streak against Arizona while helping Arizona State turn around its forgettable recent history against the Wildcats.
Harden, showing the game that has made him the leading candidate for the NBA MVP award this season, had a game-high 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in leading the Suns Devils to their second victory in 26 games in a series dominated for more than two decades by Lute Olson and the team 100 miles south on I-10.
Arizona State had its second victory against the Wildcats since March 11, 1995, and won its ninth straight game of the season, its best streak in five years.
Harden tied the game with a layup with a minute remaining in regulation, and he made a layup and Jeff Ayres (then Pendergaph) hit a follow shot after a Harden miss for a 62-59 lead.
Forwards Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill had 32 points, 18 rebounds — 14 by Hill — and three blocked shots but did not receive much support. The Wildcats played without leading scorer guard Jerryd Bayless, the first freshman in school history to lead the team in scoring. Bayless declared for the NBA draft after freshman seasons and was chosen in the first round.
The season ended with on a mysterious note. Arizona State (21-13, 9-9) beat Arizona (19-15, 8-10) twice, but the Wildcats were selected for the NCAA tournament field while the Sun Devils went to the NIT.