The last time the Arizona Wildcats stepped foot on the Wells Fargo Arena floor in Tempe, it resulted in a frustrating loss to their in-state rivals. The 87-80 loss to the Sun Devils ended up knocking the Wildcats out the NCAA Tournament having been considered a bubble team going into the game.
Now the seventh ranked team in the nation returns to Tempe to try and get back on the winning side of things on Saturday.
“It’s a big game for out fans. A huge game for our University and we recognize that” said Miller at his weekly press conference on Thursday. “I think the thing you control in this is to be as ready as you can. And hopefully you have the opportunity to win. That’s the name of the game.”
However last season is behind them and the Wildcats have retooled with a roster full of new faces who will get their first taste of the ASU rivalry. With so many players from the game last season no longer on both teams, Arizona head coach Sean Miller does not think a motivational factor from last season’s crushing loss is needed.
“That was a different team,” explained Miller. “It’s a brand new season and it’s not early in the season…That ship has sailed. I think we know a year a go we lost that game. But I don’t think that will have any motivational factor of significance this year.”
“The bigger picture is to have a successful season,” Miller added. “In our case we hope to compete for a regular season conference championship and you know really go on to do some great things.”
A big match-up in this game will be down in the post. ASU’s Jordan Bachynski is the Pac-12’s leading shot blocker and is among the top rebounders as well. Miller explained that his presence alter’s your approach on the offensive side of the ball. Conversely, the Wildcats with their crew of freshman big men, are the conference’s best rebounding team.
“If at the end of the game, Arizona State got a ton of offensive rebounds and beat us on the glass, they took one of our strengths away,” Miller mentioned. “That would certainly impact our ability to win.”
The Wildcats have won 28 of the last 36 meetings with Arizona State and will look to get back to one in a row on Saturday at 12:30 from Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.