ASU men’s basketball, No. 2 UA clash in Rivalry Week special

If there’s one place on Valentine’s Day that won’t be filled with love, it’ll most likely be Wells Fargo Arena.

The Territorial Cup rivalry resumes on the hardwood when the ASU men’s basketball team hosts No. 2 UA on Friday. ESPN will air the game as part of its Rivalry Week showcase and the Sun Devils (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12) announced Tuesday that tickets were sold out.

Friday’s game will be a rematch of the one-sided affair in Tucson from Jan. 16 when the Wildcats (23-1, 10-1 Pac-12) routed ASU 91-68. ASU shot just 34 percent from the field, was outrebounded 39-30 and gave up 18 turnovers to the Wildcats.

 
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That game turned around redshirt sophomore point guard Jahii Carson’s season, as Carson had 20 points and five assists. UA junior guard Nick Johnson’s 17 points was the highest of the seven Wildcats who scored in double-figures against the Sun Devils.

The Wildcats have only lost once since ASU last saw them, when they fell at California on Feb. 1, which was also UA’s lone defeat of the season. The Wildcats only shot 32.3 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from the 3-point line as the Golden Bears forced them to shoot from outside.

UA will be without sophomore forward Brandon Ashley, who suffered a season-ending broken foot injury at California. Ashley is the Wildcats’ third-leading scorer and had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first game against ASU. Ashley’s loss is huge for a UA team that notoriously struggles at the charity stripe, as his 75.7 percent free-throw shooting is the third-highest on the team.

Freshman forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who averages 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, is starting at small forward in Ashley’s place and has been playing around 30 minutes a night. UA coach Sean Miller only rotates sophomore guard Elliot Pitts and freshman guard Gabe York off the bench in the Wildcats’ usual lineup.

After the game in Tucson, the Sun Devils changed their starting lineup and have won five of their last six games. Sophomore Eric Jacobsen replaced junior forward Jonathan Gilling, improving ASU’s rebounding ability. In the six games ASU started Jacobsen, the Sun Devils had a positive rebounding margin in four of them.

ASU gets back senior guard Jermaine Marshall for Friday’s game. The Sun Devils’ second-leading scorer, averaging 15.6 points per game, missed the first meeting in Tucson due to a groin injury.

The last time ASU defeated UA at home was March 4, 2012, when the Sun Devils won 87-80. The Wildcats swept the season series last season.

Matchup to watch:

- ASU senior center Jordan Bachynski versus UA sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski. Bachynski, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, is playing the best basketball of his career, but Tarczewski shut him down in the first meeting by allowing him to score only three points, all free throws. Tarczewski, meanwhile, had 12 points and eight rebounds in the last meeting.

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion