UA-ASU, Part III: The Rubber Match

Unless Sun Devil "thug" Kyle Dodd brings some steel-toed Nikes and a gang of friends, ASU's physical style is not likely to work for a third time on Thursday night. The in-state rivals split the first two meetings and it took ASU's best games and Arizona's worst to do so. Arizona has another chance to prove that The Gap is not closing whatsoever if it brings its A (or even B-) game to the Staples Center for Part III.

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The Wildcats and the Sun Devils meet in for the third time of the season Thursday night in the Pac-10 tournament and there is a lot more riding on the pivotal rubber match than it appears.

First of all, Arizona's stranglehold on state bragging rights is at stake, and after more than 17 years of dominance over quasi-rival ASU, the Sun Devils might actually take the season series with a win. Chances are zero that Luke Walton, Ricky Anderson and/or Jason Gardner want to be the first Wildcat veterans to lose more than once to ASU in one year.

In order for Arizona to handily defeat the Sun Devils, which, rest assured, is the ultimate goal for the Wildcats, it has to contain both Curtis Millage and Chad Prewitt. Millage has looked like a reincarnation of Damon Stoudamire twice this year against the Cats. He hits threes, drives the lanes and scores almost at will. Let's be honest here, Curtis Millage is not the kind of talent that should be getting 20+ against a team the calibur of Arizona.

Prewitt, on the other hand, is just going to get his. He has proven over the course of four years that he's at his best against the Wildcats. He's a threat to shoot from outside and a lethal weapon with the ball on the blocks as well. Prewitt is an All-Conference player that is reliable and consistent, two things missing from most of the rest of ASU's roster.

Including the two previous games against ASU, Arizona has yet to play anywhere near its best basketball. Jason Gardner has been cold with his shot, Channing Frye has twice been a non-factor and Luke Walton played horribly in the second game in McKale Center, finishing only 3-12 from the field. If the Cats can in anyway resemble the team that took Cal apart last Saturday, there is little hope for ASU on Thursday night.

Unless Kyle Dodd brings some friends.

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