Normally, it's well-traveled UA fans who make a considerable amount of noise in opponents' gyms. But on Wednesday, a "Let's go Lopes" chant reverberated through McKale Center loudly enough that it was audible on ESPNU.
Early on, it looked like the Wildcats would make short work of the Antelopes, as they jumped out to a 32-16 lead late in the first half.
In situations like those, most undersized teams playing on the road would proceed to be blown out. But Grand Canyon used the toughness it learned playing at places like Duke, Kentucky and Indiana to battle back.
Led by their star, 5-foot-11 senior guard DeWayne Russell, the Lopes ended the half on a 9-0 run to cut UA's lead to just seven points at halftime. Russell's layup with 10:22 to play in the second half trimmed Arizona's lead to 44-40, spurring on the GCU fans who made the trip to Tucson and causing a bit of a panic among the sold-out McKale Center crowd.
"Our guys aren't intimidated," Majerle said. "This is an awesome place to play. I know the students weren't here (due to winter break) but it's still a great crowd, it's still a great environment ... but we have played in some of the toughest arenas and this ranks right up there with them."
Ultimately, the Wildcats were a bit too big and physical for the Lopes, and they scored the game's next eight points to take back control. But Majerle believes Wednesday's gritty performance will help move GCU even closer to their goal of becoming a national contender.
"In the past we would've gotten blown out by a team like this on their home court," Majerle said. "Our guys battled."
And just like the GCU fans who made the trip, the effort did not go unnoticed by UA's coach, who said the Wildcats agreed to play the Lopes because they realize just how good GCU already is.
"They're one of the hardest playing teams we've faced in several seasons," Miller said. "We didn't play Grand Canyon to help build their program or do them a favor. If playing us helps build their program, great. We played their team because we respect them. They had 27 wins last year.
"We (played them) to help us. That's the greatest compliment you can give them -- not, 'Hey, we want to help you get started. We're playing you because you're good, and we respect you.'"