Miller: ASU basketball rivalry 'much different'

Posted at 11:26 AM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 19:57:41-05

Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller has had seven seasons to soak in UA's basketball rivalry with the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Miller has won most of those matchups, and on Wednesday, his Wildcats earned a season sweep of the Sun Devils with an easy victory at McKale Center.

See also: ASU coach Bobby Hurley "felt helpless" during the Sun Devils' loss to UA

But in terms of the importance of beating ASU, Miller said it's a much different dynamic than the emotional and often nasty Territorial Cup football rivalry between the two schools.

"It's hard to put that much more emphasis on any single rivalry or game"

"Do our guys know that Arizona State holds more significance to maybe some of our fans? They do. But I say this all the time: The rivalry in football and basketball (is) much different," Miller said after UA routed ASU 99-61 in Tucson. 

"We play them twice, maybe three times (per season). We play 35 games. We play home and away. It's hard to put that much more emphasis on any single rivalry or game."

With Wednesday's rout, Miller improved to 10-4 against ASU as the Wildcats' head coach, and he's won six in a row against the Sun Devils in Tucson. 

And there's no doubt Miller has caught a bit of the rivalry fever over the years. Last March, after UA lost to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight for the second straight season, he tweeted the following.

Nonetheless, Miller noted every single conference game carries equal significance in the standings -- and protecting your home court against every opponent, including the Sun Devils, is crucial heading into the NCAA Tournament.

"Our guys, I think they look at this game as important, but it's hard to look at it as that much more important than playing UCLA or USC (last) weekend," he said.

"Arizona State's part of the Pac-12. We play nine home games. (Wednesday night was) one of the nine, and we want to be at our best in any home game we play. We know how important it is to be able to win our home games to do the things that we want to do."