What a win over Arizona means for Arizona State
On a loud night inside the Wells Fargo Arena with the 17,331 in attendance, which is 3,000 over the capacity, the Arizona Sun Devils finally pulled off an overtime win to break the losing streak against the hated Arizona Wildcats.
After clearing the Cats, the Sun Devils are only 2.5 games behind the Washington Huskies for first place in the Pac-12. This win was a reminder that this is the same ASU team that knocked off No. 1 Kansas at home earlier in the season.
It's clear that the Sun Devils will go as far as sophomore guard Remy Martin and redshirt junior forward Zylan Cheatham will take them. Scoring a career high 31 points, Martin was hitting three point shots from all over the court with hands all over his face. At one point with the shot clock winding down, Martin casually picked up the ball from 35 feet, heard Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley yell about the shot clock and drained another one.
Martin was asked after the game if that was his best game ever. Martin's smile alone basically said "of course."
"Yeah, because it was U of A," said Martin. "It doesn't matter if I had two points and four assists, a win against U of A makes it my best game ever."
When Martin wasn't shooting, Cheatham was clearing the boards from every angle, ending up with 22 rebounds and 11 points. Cheatham was on the bench last season due to having to sit out the year after transferring from San Diego State. He waited for his chance to star in the rivalry game.
“I remember me and Rob looking at each other and saying, ‘we are going to turn it up next season,’ said Cheatham. “They have won in all different types of ways, so Rob and I just talked about changing this not just for our sake, but for Bobby Hurley’s sake .”
Breaking this losing streak against the Wildcats since 2015 breeds new found life and a sense of belief into a program that has been steadily improving but needed a break through win. This isn't the feared Arizona club of years past but it still provided the Sun Devils a respectable win that put them in the race for an at large bid. Slowly but surely, Hurley’s new ASU team is breaking barriers. They'll have their chance at Washington on Saturday.