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Sun Devils look to spoil Wildcats’ postseason hopes

Carrick Felix sizes up a defender in a game against Colorado on Feb. 11 . Felix missed the past several games because of an illness, but is expected to return against UA on Sunday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)
Carrick Felix sizes up a defender in a game against Colorado on Feb. 11 . Felix missed the past several games because of an illness, but is expected to return against UA on Sunday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Even with a losing record, the ASU men’s basketball team has something to play for Sunday: beating the Wildcats.

The heated in-state rivalry will conclude the regular season for both schools at Wells Fargo Arena.

They kicked off conference play against each other at UA (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12) on New Year’s Eve. The Wildcats mopped the Sun Devils (9-20, 5-12), 68–51. Senior forward Jesse Perry had 16 points and seven rebounds in that contest, while freshman guard Nick Johnson dropped 14 points.

ASU has had plenty of losing streaks this season, but never a winning streak. The Sun Devils will seek back-to-back wins for the first time this season. ASU defeated USC, 56–52, Saturday to snap a four game-losing streak.

Junior wing Carrick Felix did not play in that game or Thursday’s loss to UCLA, 66–57, due to a virus. The Arizona Republic reports Felix returned to practice and is expected to play Sunday.

The Sun Devils aren’t in any shape of setting themselves up for an NCAA tournament berth, but UA is.

The Wildcats are a bubble team that can’t afford a loss to the Sun Devils. Their Ratings Percentage Index — 69th in the country — is already in question, and a loss to the No. 250 team in the RPI would damage their chances at receiving an at-large bid.

UA has found its stride as of late, posting a 7-1 record in February.  The month started with a win at California, 78–74. The Wildcats’ only loss in that span came at Washington.

UA has three players averaging 30 or more minutes per game. Perry averages 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Kyle Fogg leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game. Junior forward Solomon Hill leads the Wildcats in rebounding, with 7.9 per game.

Tipoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and 620 AM.

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu

 

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