It was a game that deserved a crowd.
Despite only select family members, media and a lot of cardboard cutouts in the stands, Arizona and ASU had the intensity of a great rivalry matchup. It was intense, chippy, down to the wire, and – like so many previous matchups – controversial.
After a hard-fought 39 minutes and 30 seconds, the Wildcats and Sun Devils were tied at 80. Remy Martin cut to the basket and missed the layup but drew contact on Azuolas Tubelis. A foul was not called. James Akinjo, who led all scorers with 24 points, heaved up a 3-point shot. He missed short but Tubelis was in the right place at the right time and laid it in as the clock expired.
There were questionable calls on both sides, and like with every game, one play doesn’t define the game. ASU was in cruise control in the final minutes but failed to score in the closing 2:22. Arizona finished the game on a 7-0 run.
But Bobby Hurley’s frustration was evident in his postgame availability that not only would a foul not be called, but one of the Pac-12’s most decorated players couldn’t get a call.
He posted the shot on Twitter after the game:
— Bobby Hurley (@BobbyHurley11) January 22, 2021
The Wildcats sit at 11-3 and now add a road win against a talented Sun Devil team to their resumé. For Arizona State, the frustration continues. A team that had expectations to sit atop the conference and make a deep postseason run is no 4-7, having to battle positive COVID tests on the roster, inconsistent rosters and struggles on the court.
If tonight was sweet victory or bitter defeat within the rivalry, both teams will need to internalize this game and get ready for another intense matchup as the rivalry is revisited in Tucson on Monday.