Arizona Preview

In early January after Arizona State beat Arizona for the first time in 12 tries, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Sun Devils program and a lot of concern for the Wildcats program. ASU was off to a scorching hot start and was 3-0 in Pac-10 play in nearly 30 years while UA was 1-2 in conference play and was a listless team in the absence of Lute Olson.

Now, a month later, the tides have turned back to normal. The Sun Devils have lost five straight and the Wildcats have won four of their last five and the excellent play of Jerryd Bayless, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill has put them back among the elite teams in the Pac-10.

The McHale Center is not a place for fond memories if you are a Sun Devil fan seeing as how ASU hasn't won in Tucson since their double-overtime win in 1995 and hasn't come very close since then.

In the last meeting, James Harden took his first big steps into Sun Devil lore with 26 hard-earned points and Jeff Pendergraph hit for 14 points including the free-throws to clinch the win. The Wildcats, playing without Bayless, were led by a menacing and dunk-filled 18 points and 14 rebounds while Budinger and Jawann McClellan had 14 and 10 respectively. In this meeting, Bayless is back and rearing to go but his backup, Nic Wise, is out after having knee surgery.

Head Coach – Kevin O'Neill

Projected Starters

G – Jerryd Bayless – (18.9 PPG, 4.4 APG)
G – Daniel Dillon – (2.6 PPG, 1.9 APG)
G – Jawann McClellan – (9.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG)
F – Chase Budinger – (17.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG)
C – Jordan Hill – (12.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG)

Impact Reserves
G – Zane Johnson
F – Jamelle Horne
F – Bret Brielmaier


While Jerryd Bayless is back and the Arizona Wildcats are playing well as of late, the loss of the team's only true point guard, Nic Wise, will have an impact on the rotation used by O'Neill. Bayless is likely to start off as the point guard but role could be handed to Budinger, Dillon, or even Johnson at any point and let Bayless play in more of a scoring dynamic. There is even more drama in the air as its not likely that the Wildcats most especially O'Neill and Bayless will take extra meaning in this game against the Sun Devils because they don't take losing to a team they usually pick on very well.


This will be a position of intrigue for UA as Wise is out and Bayless has been used more as shooting guard and there is no true floor leader available. On the other hand, the Wildcats will be poised to run even more and push the pace to counteract the lack of a true ball distributor. Bayless is going to be the toughest test for the Sun Devils yet and guys like McClellan and Johnson can shoot if not given their due respect and Dillon is a defensive stopper who will likely be assigned to Harden for most of the contest. ASU will counter with Derek Glasser and Jamelle McMillan rotating at the point and Ty Abbott and Christian Polk alongside them in the backcourt. Abbott has been ice cold as of late and if he can find his stroke, he can give the Sun Devils a good shot to end their current five game skid.

Solid Edge – Arizona


The key player to watch will be Budinger because even though he scored 14 points in the first matchup between these two teams, he was also just 2 for 10 from three-point range and turned the ball over six times in a game in which he was clearly frustrated throughout. Off the bench, Bret Brielmaier is the first choice but he has been playing intermittently with a shoulder injury and that may give way to Jamelle Horne to get more minutes. Horne is more athletic than Brielmaier but is less physical and has less strength. For ASU, Harden will be the go-to guy as usual and Antwi Atuahene and Jerren Shipp will be down low next to Harden.

Edge – Even


In the previous meeting, Jordan Hill was simply dominant for 40 minutes but struggled in the overtime period. With 18 points and 14 boards, Hill was the only guy that kept the Wildcats in the game and he nearly even won it for them. Jeff Pendergraph had less impressive statistics but he took the capacity home crowd on his shoulders and his clutch performance led the Sun Devils to victory. Now, with Pendergraph struggling and going on the road, Hill will likely be up to the same thing once again and JP must make adjustments to contain him. Slight Edge – Arizona

Final Score – Arizona 76 Arizona State 67

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