This weekend it won’t matter what the records say.
It won’t matter one team is inching closer to an NCAA tournament bid, while the other is simply looking forward to the opportunity of trying to spoil the party.
Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena the rivalry will be renewed.
Fingers will be pointed. Words will be exchanged. Tempers will flare.
Arizona vs. Arizona State.
For UofA (21-9, 12-5), winners of seven of their last eight, the Pac-12 regular season finale is an opportunity to carry momentum into next week’s Pac-12 Tournament in Los Angeles.
On the other side, Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils (9-20, 5-12) can make their otherwise forgettable season with a win over their in-state rivals.
Regardless of the situation, the Devils certainly have the ‘Cats full attention.
“Teams that are [struggling] have nothing to lose,” UofA senior guard and former Mesa Mountain View star Brendon Lavender told Brad Cesmat Wednesday on “Big Guy on Sports.” “Those are the type of teams that you have to be worried about because anything can happen.”
Playing at home, ASU is hoping to return the favor to the Wildcats who raced out to a 14-point halftime lead and cruised to a 68-51 win over the Devils on New Year’s Eve in Tucson.
“ASU has a great crowd,” Lavender explained. “Especially when we’re coming to their house. It’s going to be a packed house. They have a great zone [defense] that’s tricky to play. It’s going to be a good game.”
The Sun Devils certainly won’t need a fire and brimstone speech from Sendek before taking the floor at Ned Wulk Court.
“We’ve had a lot some ups and downs and unforeseen circumstances this season,” ASU leading scorer Trent Lockett told “Big Guy on Sports” Thursday. “But obviously anytime you have the opportunity to play the Wildcats…we’re always ready for that challenge.”
Those challenges include slowing Lavender who’s one of the top three-point percentage shooters in the country (50.5%) and fellow senior Kyle Fogg who leads UofA in scoring at just over 13 points a game.
“They’re a great team,” Lockett explained. “They’re built differently than they were last year. Even though they’re undersized in the post, they make up for that with their physicality and they rebound the ball well.”
Tipoff for the “Duel in the Desert” is 1:30.