Rivalries are filled with moments engraved into history books. Within those rivalries are legends that live on forever in the memories of two competing fanbases. The new name etched into Territorial Cup history is Remy Martin.
The sophomore guard’s career-high 31 points, eight assists lifted Arizona State (15-6, 6-3 Pac-12) over Arizona (14-8, 5-4) 95-88 in overtime.
When asked if that was Martin’s best game in college, he responded with:
“Yes because it was U of A.”
The third largest crowd in ASU history should’ve known it was bound to be Martin’s night early in the second half. After senior forward Zylan Cheatham saved an Luguentz Dort airball from going out of bounds, the ball ended up in Martin’s hands. With head coach Bobby Hurley next to him, Martin was reminded by Hurley’s extended arms and pointing that the shot clock didn’t reset.
What did Martin do? He put up a deep three, a three Hurley or most people wouldn’t classify as good shot selection, even with just four seconds on the shot clock. However, he sank the three, killing a 10-2 Arizona run and extending ASU’s lead to 49-45.
Martin also had the dagger. After the Wildcats’ senior guard Justin Coleman sent the game into overtime with a late three, ASU scored the first four points of the extra period. Then with a chance to finally end Arizona’s hopes, Martin hit one of his five threes to ice it.
“That’s a key point of emphasis, energy,” said Cheatham on when Martin celebrated after his big shot. “You hear it at every program in the country talking about how important energy is. And when he’s hitting shots like that and he gets the crowd going, it takes some stress off of your shoulders. When you just battle so hard defensively and finally get a stop, get a rebound and he comes down, makes a three and makes them call a timeout like that. It’s unbelievable plays and anytime he does that I definitely acknowledge him.”
When ASU needed Martin the most, he stepped up. Earlier in the week, he mentioned after his miss late in the loss against USC, he needed to hit those types of shots. The Sun Devils found themselves down six with under six minutes to go.
Martin then made a three, and another, then when he looked as if he was going to throw up a heat check in the corner he decided against it. Instead, he drove the baseline for a reverse layup, eight straight Martin points later the Sun Devils were back up one. And it took overtime, but Hurley got his first win over the Wildcats as ASU’s head coach, thanks to his point guard’s performance.
“I just did it for my guys, I did it this whole ASU community. Did it for coach Hurley and the staff. It’s personal, and when it gets personal it ups the intensity,” Martin said. “You know me loving Hurley, me loving the ASU community and seeing what it’s been through against U of A. It’s something that the team and I took upon ourselves, and say, ‘hey, why not make a turn into history and keep it like that?’ It means so much to me right now.”
Martin’s energy plays didn’t just come from his big time shots. Timely passes led to high-energy slams from his teammates to get the ASU faithful ignited. He’ll never get a box score credit, but with under two minutes left in the game, Martin baited the Wildcats to press him driving into the paint. Meanwhile, redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards cutting on the baseline, Martin found him, but Edwards was fouled on the layup attempt. He’d make both free throws to put ASU up 81-78 before the game reached overtime.
He may be overlooked compared to Martin’s scoring, but Cheatham once again got a double-double on 11 points and 22 rebounds. Breaking his career-high he set in the two games before with his 20 boards in the win against UCLA.
With an ASU team that has looked and searched for an exact identity, they may never have a precise one. Martin and Cheatham, however, do. The pair are selfless are will do whatever is asked of them for their team.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m willing to do,” Martin said. “They need me to get shots like Rob, Rob is shooting phenomenally right now, get him touches. It’s really all credit to the guys, I can’t get eight assists if the team doesn’t make anything. Credit to them, credit to Z[ylan Cheatham] for getting 22 boards and outletting it to me, so I could make a play. It’s a collective group, but it’s definitely something I’ve thought about. Whatever the team needs me to do at that moment, I am willing to do.”
Hurley reiterated what Martin said:
“I thought it was great team effort, disguised also by other unbelievable individual performances from my team,” he said. “Really proud of them and what they brought to this game, how they fought through everything. Remy was spectacular tonight, especially with his shot making, his assists. Zylan again over 20 rebounds, it’s insane what he’s doing out there for this team.”
For as good as Martin and Cheatham were for ASU on Thursday, it may have been Hurley, who influenced his team to a victory. As Cheatham told the story postgame, Hurley got the team together pre-shootaround at the team’s practice facility, where they watch film before games. Cheatham, confused with the rest of his teammates didn’t know what was happening.
Cheatham and all of ASU’s team had to read the score of every Arizona-ASU score since Hurley’s arrival to Tempe. Hurley, who had never beaten Arizona before Thursday, ran a line for each point ASU loss by in those games. In six games, ASU lost by a combined 92 points, with his team watching, Hurley ran 92 lines before the contest.
Hurley told the team, “the suffering ends tonight” as the reason for the lines. Cheatham described him as a “lunatic,” but it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.