Both games were very intense, extremely physical, and absolutely full-tilt and fast-paced. Not only do these two schools feature an obvious in-state rivalry, but they seem to have a contrast in style that makes them natural enemies...with Arizona posing a more offensive-system, and the Sun Devils an overplaying defensive squad. So something has to give here...
There is no Coach more distinguished in the Western U.S. than Coach Lute Olson, and this season should ensure him another shot at the National Coach of the Year honors, as well as Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors. What Coach Olson has done is that of legends, and Arizona enters this contest as the #2 seed in the Pac-10 Tournament...quite an accomplishment for a team that has only 9 scholarship players, 5 of which are Freshman. Coach Rob Evans leads his Arizona State squad in as the #7 seed, and though his team was fairly inconsistent this year...the Sun Devils are still very dangerous. They were one of only two teams in the Pac-10 to beat both Oregon, Arizona, and UCLA...and they might play with more heart & soul than any other team in the Conference.
The 1st contest between these two schools was played in Tempe on Jan 23, and ASU ended four years of frustration by ball-hawking the Wildcats, winning 88-72. I think Arizona was a bit shell-shocked during that contest from how competitive & hungry the Sun Devils were for them. In the 2nd game in Tucson, Arizona took control early and went up by as many as 19 point. However, the Sun Devils showed their improved mental toughness and fought back behind Jason Braxton & Curtis Millage...and ended up leading the game late, before some big shots by Arizona's Jason Gardner swung the game back to the `Cats. That particular game might have been the most physical game I have seen all year in the Pac-10 as well.
- 6'7 230 lbs Junior Power Forward Luke Walton
- 6'9 250 lbs Frosh Center Isaiah Fox
- 6'9 220 lbs Junior Small Forward Ricky Anderson
- 6'1 190 lbs Frosh Shooting Guard Salim Stoudamire
- 5'10 170 lbs Junior Point Guard Jason Gardner
- 6'10 240 lbs Frosh Center Channing Frye
- 5'10 175 lbs Frosh Shooting Guard Will Bynum
- 6'8 225 lbs Frosh Power Forward Dennis Latimore
- 6'9 240 lbs Senior Center Chad Prewitt
- 6'10 215 lbs Junior Power Forward Tommie Smith
- 6'7 200 lbs Junior Small Forward Donnell Knight
- 6'2 180 lbs Frosh Point Guard Jason Braxton
- 6'2 175 lbs Junior Shooting Guard Curtis Millage
- 6'7 225 lbs Junior Small Forward Shawn Redhage
- 6'0 175 lbs Junior Point Guard Kyle Dodd
- 6'4 215 lbs Senior Shooting Guard Brad Nahra
- 6'9 240 lbs Junior Power Forward Chris Osborne
- 6'5 225 lbs Senior Small Forward Awvee Storey
- 6'3 190 lbs Soph Shooting Guard Kenny Crandall
To me, this contest is the most ripe for an upset of any in the 1st Round of the Pac-10 Tournament. And its not so much that I don't believe Arizona is a quality team, or can't handle the #2 seed....its just that ASU has absolutely no fear of playing & beating the `Cats. They are also a much deeper team, and have the stronger inside game due to the play of Chad Prewitt & Tommie Smith. I think with ASU losing their last 3 games, and Arizona winning two of their last three...something tells me its gonna give here, and ASU will break-through.
I know this is a shocker, and nobody is looking at this contest as an upset - but lets see what happens in this one. I like ASU mainly because they have shown the ability against ASU to get way down and still come back, and that's not something I think the `Cats can do against the Sun Devils. I'll predict that Curtis Millage and Kenny Crandall shoot very well from the arc, and the Sun Devils out-rebound U of A by 10 boards to gain the win, 83-79. I'll pick the MVP to be Chad Prewitt. This is my one big upset of the Tournament, and though upsets are always going to go against the grain...I am going to take ASU since I think they are that one.