ASU

Wells Fargo Arena was once again a den of darkness for Arizona. Photo by Wildcat Universe

Hello. My name is Scott and my favorite basketball team lost to Arizona State.

Again.

In trying times like this we could all use a little support.

Wildcat Universe is used to dealing with this on the football side (even though Arizona has a winning record in the Territorial Cup game the last seven years, since joining the Pac-10 and all time, thank you very much). It’s strange seeing the basketball team fail to hold up its end of the bargain.

It has now been a full decade since Arizona swept ASU in both football and basketball in the same school year. That was Mike Stoops’ first season. This is not good.

So we must work through the Five Stages of Grief Caused by Losing to ASU:

Bewilderment
What makes this loss even more baffling (perplexing, baffling, abstruse) is the Cats had been playing extremely well just eight days prior. If you turn back the clock one week (please?) the UA was on a six-game tear following the Oregon State loss. It was like the lack of a midweek game caused Arizona to forget it was in the top 10 and Arizona State to forget it was No. 10 in the Pac-12.

Yeahbut
This is where we counter Sun Devil gloating with other accomplishments in an attempt to mask the pain and maintain a position of superiority.

Yeahbut Arizona Football won the Pac-12 South! GRONK! won the Super Bowl! Our school wasn’t mocked in “Dumb and Dumber To”!

Minimizing
We tell ourselves nobody wins all the time. Floyd Mayweather doesn’t win all his fights. (Wait, he does?!) The sun doesn’t always rise in the east. (That too?!?)

Bad examples. But this is rare. If we forget the two hoops seasons when Arizona had interim coaches (don’t mind if I do!), the last time Arizona State beat the Wildcats in consecutive years was 1994 and ’95. Back then Sean Miller was working for Herb Sendek at Miami of Ohio and Stanley Johnson was still a year away from birth.

But Sendek is now 9-10 against Arizona. He can claim a winning record against the UA since Lute Olson retired. At least when Sendek went 5-0 against the Wildcats’ interim coaches he had James Harden. These are the Lost-to-Lehigh Sun Devils who are known more for twerking unicorns than basketball. Thinking about that leads to…

Anger
This involves a lot of foot-stomping and object-throwing. We go on fan rants that don’t change anything.

How can the Cats give up 81 points to an ASU team that scored 49 in Tucson? Home court advantage isn’t supposed to equal 32 points!

Defense is all about attitude! It’s an attitude that says no, Bo Barnes, you’re not going to score a career high against us! No, Savon Goodman, we’re not letting you score in double figures for just the second time in 10 games!!

Then we sigh, shake our heads and look to our nearest Lute-related memorabilia for comfort.

Move On and Bear Down
The cushion in the Pac-12 standings is gone but Arizona is still tied for first place. The problem is the Wildcats are just 4-3 in true road games with four more games away from home including the rematch with Utah.

There is no more margin for error if the UA wants to win conference championship number 27 but the team still controls its own fate. The path to a Pac-12 title is steep but it’s not a cliff. Arizona just needs to play like it did during the six-game win streak but this time make it an eight-game win streak (that turns into a 17-game streak, if you don’t mind).

The one stage you won’t find on this list is acceptance. Olson went 43-6 against Those Guys. Fred Enke, Arizona’s original 500-win basketball coach, won more than two-thirds of his games against Tempe State Teachers College / Arizona State College / ASU, posting a 72-35 record from 1925 to 1961. Miller is also at .667 in the rivalry with an 8-4 mark and I would bet my ranchito on that winning percentage going up over time.

The University of Arizona beating Arizona State on the hardwood is a time-honored tradition in this territory, like Rodeo Days and governors with crazy facial hair.

Maybe the Cats will get a chance to right this wrong in the Pac-12 tournament. If not, it’s only 41 weeks until the Pac-12 South Champs go Devil hunting once again.

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