The Arizona Wildcats’ 73-60 win over ASU in Tempe today helps them with the mindset of finishing the regular season strong with a victory after last week’s loss to UCLA at McKale Center.
A win assures the Wildcats at least a No. 2 finish in the Pac-12 heading into the conference tournament next week at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Going into the anticipated conference tournament with a win was paramount, but also coming with it is Arizona’s 150th victory against its archrivals. The Wildcats are 150-82 against the Sun Devils in their series history. That is the most amount of wins against an opponent.
ARIZONA’S MILESTONE WINS VS. ASU
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Here’s an odd stat: Arizona has never beaten a ranked ASU team, going 0-11. Of course, that is a rare occurrence that ASU is ranked and the Sun Devils are not now. Seven of those losses predated Lute Olson’s hire at Arizona in 1983.
One of them was the 103-98 double-overtime loss at McKale in 1995 when ASU was ranked No. 18. Damon Stoudamire and Ben Davis did not play because of alleged NCAA violations and Joseph Blair was out with a sprained ankle.
The other three losses to ranked ASU teams were in one season — 2008-09 — when Russ Pennell was the interim coach and the Sun Devils had James Harden.
Some of the most memorable victories for Arizona along the way against ASU (with victory number over the Sun Devils):
No. 89 — Feb. 2, 1974: This year’s Pac-12 Hall of Honor inductee Bob Elliott scores 38 points and grabs 25 rebounds — as a freshman — in the Wildcats’ 98-90 win at McKale Center.
No. 90 — March 6, 1976: Arizona clinches its first conference title in 25 years, earning the Western Athletic Conference championship, with a 77-72 win over ASU at McKale Center. Elliott leads the Wildcats with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
No. 91 — Nov. 26, 1976: The season-opener — Arizona and ASU once scheduled each other three times in a season — came down to the last two seconds in overtime, won by the Wildcats 92-91 on a shot in the lane by Tim Marshall. Herman Harris scored 34 points while making 15 of 25 shots from the field (before the 3-point line was instituted).
No. 96 — Jan. 20, 1984: Steve Kerr learned of his father’s assassination in Beirut only three days prior to playing against ASU and offered an inspirational performance as a freshman with his 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting in the 71-49 win over the Sun Devils. After bowing his head and weeping during a moment of silence before the game, Kerr’s first attempt was a 25-foot shot that hit nothing but net that sent the McKale Center crowd into a frenzy.
No. 98– Jan. 5, 1985: Arizona overcame a seven-point deficit in the last 37 seconds behind the heroics of Eddie Smith to win 61-60 in Tempe. Smith had six points on two plays in the last 26 seconds, including the conversion of a three-point play with 4 seconds left that put Arizona on top.
No. 104 — Feb. 27, 1988: Kerr again was the focal point after a small group of ASU students chanted “PLO”, “Where’s your dad?” and “Go back to Beirut” before the game in Tempe. Kerr scored 22 points after making his first seven shots, six of them from 3-point range, all in the first half. “Those kind of people are the scum of the Earth,” Kerr said of the handful of ASU students after the game, won by Arizona 101-73.
No. 119 — Jan. 15, 1998: Arizona defeats ASU 127-99 (school record for most points scored) at McKale Center behind the scoring output of Mike Bibby (23 points), Miles Simon (22), Michael Dickerson (20), Jason Terry (17) and A.J. Bramlett (14).
No. 133 — March 5, 2005: Arizona guard Salim Stoudamire makes an 11-foot jumper with 0.6 seconds showing to give Arizona a 70-68 win in Tempe. The winning shot helps Arizona claim its 11th conference title in school history and gave Olson a Pac-10-record 305 coaching victories, passing the legendary John Wooden of UCLA.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.