The Arizona State Sun Devils accomplished a number of things in a two-hour span at McKale Center on Saturday -- not the least of which was possibly solidifying their place in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Behind dozens of noisy Sun Devil fans who made the trip 110 miles south, ASU gutted out a 72-64 victory over the host Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, giving the Sun Devils a 21-win regular season and 12 victories in the Pac-12. The victory also did the following:
-Gave ASU its first season sweep of Arizona men's basketball since the 2008-09 season.
-Gave ASU coach Bobby Hurley his first-ever victory at McKale Center. Hurley had been 0-4 at McKale, including 0-1 as a player.
-Gave ASU its first win at McKale Center since the 2009-10 season -- UA coach Sean Miller's first season in Tucson.
-Possibly assured ASU of its first back-to-back trips to the NCAA Tourament since 1980-81.
The Sun Devils and Wildcats will now turn their attention to Las Vegas and the Pac-12 Tournament, which begins Wednesday. ASU will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed and will have a first-round bye, while Arizona will be the No. 9 seed and will face USC in the first game of the tournament Wednesday at noon.
Here are three big takeaways from the Sun Devils' victory.
1. Remy steals the show
Remy Martin did the same thing Saturday that he did in ASU's win over the Wildcats in late January: Once again, ASU's sophomore guard put a fork in his team's archrivals.
After scoring 31 points in ASU's win over UA in Tempe, Martin scored 27 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists at McKale Center. After Arizona went on a 10-1 run to take a one-point lead, Martin put the Devils on his back by scoring 12 of ASU's final 19 points to seal the Devils' win.
2. Devils dial in on defense
The Wildcats have been the better defensive team for most of the season, but ASU stepped up in a big way defensively in Tucson.
UA hit 7 of its first 10 shots Saturday, but the Sun Devils clamped down after that, limiting the Wildcats to 13 of 38 from the field the rest of the way. The Wildcats missed some open looks, but the Devils didn't give Arizona many easy looks inside and scored 23 points off 17 Wildcat turnovers. UA guards Brandon Williams and Justin Coleman both fouled out, further limiting Arizona's ability to move the ball and get open shots late in the game.
3. UA's seniors come up short
On Senior Day, the Wildcats, who finished the regular season 17-14 overall and 8-10 in the Pac-12, badly needed seniors Coleman and Ryan Luther to step up and make big shots. For most of the game, both men were unable to do so.
Luther knocked down his first two 3-point attempts but went cold after that, missing all of his final seven attempts from deep. Coleman hit a big 3-pointer to briefly give Arizona the lead with 7:35 to play, but he went just 2 of 9 for the game and fouled out with over five minutes left.
The Wildcats simply aren't deep or talented enough to win when both Coleman and Luther have off nights. They'll both have to be better if the Wildcats want to win four straight games in the Pac-12 Tournament, which they will have to do in order to advance to this year's NCAA Tournament.