No. 7 Arizona out to derail Arizona State’s tourney plans


No. 7 Arizona will honor two key senior transfers in its final home game on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., where the Wildcats also hope to derail rival Arizona State’s late-season push for the NCAA Tournament.

The Wildcats (25-4, 13-4 Pac-12) have been playing a tight, seven-man rotation lately, including senior starters Courtney Ramey (Texas transfer) and Cedric Henderson Jr. (Campbell), who are each in their first season at Arizona.

Ramey is the team’s third-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game and leads the Pac-12 in 3-pointers made per game (2.72). He has hit 68 of 164 (41.5 percent) and had an 8-for-16 night at Stanford on Feb. 11. Henderson is a do-it-all-type averaging 7.6 points and shooting 40.3 percent from behind the arc (29 of 72). Arizona is 9-1 since he moved into the starting lineup about five weeks ago.

They have seamlessly fit into a lineup of veterans that include Azuolas Tubelis, Oumar Ballo, Kerr Kriisa and Pelle Larsson.

“I’m really thankful for those guys. Courtney and Ced have been tremendous additions to our program,” second-year Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “And to be honest with you, I don’t know if we could have done better in the transfer portal than those two.”

Arizona State (19-9, 10-7) absorbed a home loss to Colorado last week that hurt its postseason chances, but it did bounce back Saturday with a 67-59 win over Utah. The Sun Devils’ finish to the regular season is daunting – at Arizona, at UCLA, at Southern California – but those are also great resume opportunities before the Pac-12 Tournament at Las Vegas.

“We’re having a good season. If we were in any other league, we wouldn’t even be talking about this. But our league was not rated great in the nonconference,” Hurley said about being projected on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble. “We have games that are opportunities in front of us. If we want to prove that we belong or prove to ourselves we can go to Vegas and win that event, we have to start winning games now.”

The Wildcats have won five in a row in the series, including a 69-60 decision at ASU on Dec. 31. The Sun Devils shot 28.9 percent in the first half and were down 17 at halftime before rallying within two points with the help of a full-court press.

“Our defense was excellent in the second half, and that gave us a chance,” Hurley said. “But overall we know we have to play more efficiently on offense, especially on the road against a team that can score, has a lot of firepower, and can score around the basket.”

Tubelis continues to lead the conference in scoring (19.6 points per game) and rebounding (9.1), although his frontcourt mate Ballo is right behind on the boards (9.0) and is scoring 14.6 points per game.

Arizona is first in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (49.2), but ASU is third in field goal percentage defense (40.0). Desmon Cambridge Jr. (13.7 points) and DJ Horne (11.5) are the primary scorers for the Sun Devils, who haven’t scored more than 70 points in any of their past 10 games.

–Field Level Media

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