A Night to Remember: Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils Got the Cat Off Their Back
By Peter Bouloukos,
February 5, 2019 1:50 PM

Vince Lombardi said, “If you are not fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” That may be a bit extreme, but Sun Devil Basketball Coach Bobby Hurley was 0-6 against Arizona entering The Bank Thursday night and 25-37 in Pac-12 play. This was a must win for Coach Hurley anyway you want to look at it.

The word on Mill Avenue was before the day’s shoot-around, Bobby Hurley assembled his Sun Devil squad in street clothes. He had them recite the scores of the previous games against Arizona during his tenure. For each of the six losses, Bobby would run a “gasser” from line to line, one for each point of the losing margin. That’s a 92-point differential with Bobby losing to Sean Miller by 12, 38, 16, 13, 6, and 7 points). That’s 4,600 feet of sideline to sideline sprinting!

Following the victory, Zylan Cheatham offered “he’s a nut” as he told the story in which Bobby told his team, “the suffering stops tonight.” You have to love Bobby Hurley’s fire!  His passion is contagious!   

Now, prior to the game, if I were to tell anyone the Arizona Wildcats were going to shoot 14-28 from three-point range we would all think the Sun Devils were going to lose again. Arizona had a solid all-around offensive night!  Wildcat Coach Sean Miller offered, “Our offense, we haven’t had an offensive night like that, scoring the ball and being efficient in a long time and that should’ve been good enough for us to leave with a road win.”

But on this night at The Bank, in front of a “beyond capacity” crowd (14,731) the Fire Marshall couldn’t control, something was different. 

“The only important statistic is the final score.” – Bill Russell

All of the potential in the world does not matter if you do not win. 

Enter Sir Remy Martin! The young guard was on fire scoring a career-high 31 points, eight of them clutch in over-time leading ASU to a 95-88 victory. “Share the Sugar” Martin had 8 assists on just one turnover and added a steal in 41 minutes of high-energy leadership. Remy has 26 assists and only 5 turnovers in the past three games. 

“Whatever the team needs at that moment, that’s what I’m going to do,” Martin said. For Remy, the bank was open, and it was all cash money. He did the right things, at the right times all night long! 

“Discipline is doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, as well as it can be done, and doing it that way all the time.” – Bob Knight

Arizona State led most of the first half and through the early stages of the second but never by much. Romello “The Big Fundamental” White’s dunk capped a 6-0 spurt putting ASU up 34-27 with 45 seconds left in the half. Ryan Luther and Justin Coleman of the Wildcats hit consecutive three-pointers, and the Sun Devils ended the first half up 36-33. 

Romello White was 5-6 from the field, 3-5 from the free throw line, grabbed four boards and had two fantastic shot blocks. Romello scored 13 points but was a force in the paint, providing a solid foundation for the young Sun Devils on both ends of the court.

Zylan Cheatham – Photo, Sun Devil Athletics

If you know the History of Arizona Wildcat Games in Tempe, the color “red” has dominated Wells Fargo Arena for the better part of the past 36 years. Over 7000 students helped fill The Bank with a Sea of Sun Devil Gold Thursday Night. This simply was not happening in Tempe prior to Bobby Hurley. 

Zylan Cheatham had another double-double grabbing 22 rebounds and scoring 11 points. For Cheatham, the Senior transfer from San Diego State who attended South Mountain High School down the street from Arizona State, it was a huge victory: 

“For me personally, growing up here and just seeing this, pretty much there’s no other way to say it, the dominance that UA has had over our program, for me to come back home and my first ever Territorial game and come out victorious, it means a lot to me.”

The Wildcats took their first lead since the opening minutes on Sophomore Guard Brandon Randolph’s baby hook off the glass with 8:13 remaining. U of A was up 61-59. Then Ryan Luther hit another 3, and suddenly the Sun Devils were down 67-61. 

Remy Martin brought the Sun Devils back, sinking two three-pointers and making an explosive move to the rim in traffic giving Arizona State the lead 73-72. Zylan Cheatham followed with a powerful dunk, and our Sun Devils were up 75-72 with 3:20 left. Even though the game was moving back and forth, you could just sense ASU was going to win. The score was 83-83 heading into over-time. 

Arizona State scored the first seven points of overtime. Remy Martin’s 3-pointer put the Sun Devils ahead 90-83 with three minutes to play. Sean Miller’s Arizona Wildcats never got closer than four again. 

Game Notes:

Rob Edwards had 19 points, with 3-6 from three-point range and an important 8-11 from the free throw line.

Luguentz Dort played well scoring 15 points, shooting 4-4 from the free-throw line and dishing out 6 assists. Luguentz’s energy is vital to the Arizona State defense, and he was composed yet aggressive on Thursday night.

Sean Miller had never lost a game against Bobby or Danny Hurley entering Thursday nights match-up between the Wildcats and Sun Devils. Miller is now 8-1 against the Hurley clan.

Taeshon Cherry played only four minutes and left the game with concussion concerns. The Sun Devils are going to need bigger contributions from their bench over the next nine games. Bobby will have to dig deep and count on important minutes from Lawrence, Lake, Cherry, Shibel as well as Valtonen. Not having the experience and swagger of Mickey Mitchell has not been easy for the young Sun Devil team.

Coach Hurley pressed his starting five into serious minutes. The starters were 9-17 from three-point range, with Remy Martin making 5-7, one of which was at a distance of about 30 feet. The Sun Devil starters were 26-35 from the free throw line. As I have suggested, this improved shooting from the foul line is going to garner them success in close games down this important stretch of Pac-12 Conference play.

ESPN analyst Bill Walton was on fire too, maybe on mushrooms, but at one point he was barking like a dog.

Ernie Kent, Washington State’s head basketball coach is going to use ten players in different formations against the Sun Devils this Thursday night. Washington State’s 6’9” Senior Forward Robert Franks is averaging 21 points and 7 rebounds per game. At 225 pounds he is a force around the rim. He can also shoot the rock from three-point range stretching the defense out.

Arizona State Sun Devil Men’s basketball should beat the Washington State University Cougars by 24 points. This one SHOULD not be close; my prediction is 88-64 Sun Devils.  But they have to play with the same fire they had against Arizona.

The Washington Huskies are at The Bank Saturday for what should be an epic battle between young coaches Bobby Hurley and Mike Hopkins. 

This is pretty cool:

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