ASU's Torian Graham, Arizona Wildcats issue statements about obscene gesture during Thursday's game

Posted at 9:14 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-14 09:22:37-05

An obscene gesture made by Arizona State basketball's leading scorer toward the Arizona Wildcats student section gained national attention Thursday night.

On Friday, both schools issued statements in an effort to put the incident to rest and move past one of the more intense weeks in the history of the in-state rivalry.

During pregame warmups before Thursday's game between ASU and No. 16 Arizona in Tucson, Sun Devil senior guard Torian Graham flipped off the ZonaZoo student section. The incident caught the attention of national sports media outlets such as ESPN, USA TODAY, SB Nation and Deadspin.

After the game, Graham apologized for the gesture on Twitter and claimed it was a reaction to hearing racial slurs from the UA student section. Graham deleted that tweet early Friday.

On Friday afternoon, ASU released a statement from Graham in which he once again apologized, but without reference to the racial slur allegation.

"I am truly sorry for my actions to everyone associated with the game last night and for losing focus after the early part of warm-ups," Graham said in his statement. "What I did should never happen and there is no excuse. I apologize for all of this and other concerns I had I will handle the right way internally and with proper guidance."

Also on Friday afternoon, UA released a statement of its own in regards to Graham's initial claim.

"We continue to look into the accusation made by Arizona State's Torian Graham. At this time, we have not heard from anyone, including students, staff and security in proximity of the incident, who can confirm Graham's claim," the statement read.

"While we can't say with certainty that it did not occur, we were told by people in that area that they did not hear words or language of that nature prior to, during and after the time of the incident as well as during the game. We pride ourselves on our sportsmanship, take these matters very seriously, and strive to deliver an appropriate environment for visiting teams and patrons."

On Friday, ASU media relations director Doug Tammaro told ESPN's Myron Medcalf that Graham "will work with our upper administration internally in relaying what happened at Arizona" and that process "will be between us and them."

Regardless of whether racial slurs were uttered at McKale Center on Thursday, the environment before and during the game was especially volatile, as members of the ZonaZoo shouted taunts at ASU players as they entered and exited the court.

The section was especially hostile toward ASU coach Bobby Hurley, who caught fire from UA fans last week after telling his team that if any opposing team wants to get a win in the state of Arizona, "they had better go to f****** Tucson."

A "f*** you Bobby" chant briefly broke out in the ZonaZoo section after Hurley was called for a technical foul in the second half. Other chants directed toward Hurley included "How was Tucson?" and "bye-bye Bobby" late in the game after the Wildcats had secured the victory.

Arizona beat ASU 91-75 on Thursday night. The Sun Devils and Wildcats will meet again in Tempe on March 4 in what will be the regular-season finale for both teams.