The score was 46-45 with just under 16 minutes remaining in the second half. Arizona (14-8, 5-4 Pac-12) had just trimmed an Arizona State (15-6, 6-3) lead down to one.
The Wildcats had established momentum and ASU was in the midst of a stagnant offensive possession. A missed shot that didn’t touch the rim trickled back to sophomore guard Remy Martin.
Martin, who was stationed near the Wells Fargo Arena logo, took a quick glance at head coach Bobby Hurley. The shot clock was down under five seconds and Hurley gave a look to Martin to hoist up a shot.
Not fazed whatsoever, Martin calmly put up a near 35-foot three. The shot hit nothing but net. It was that kind of night for Martin, who finished with 31 points and eight assists in a 95-88 overtime victory over the Wildcats.
Martin had a night to remember, but so did his running mate in the backcourt in junior guard Rob Edwards, who finished with 19 points on 4 of 9 shooting. Put together, the backcourt helped stage the first win against Arizona in the Bobby Hurley era.
“Remy was spectacular tonight, especially with his shot-making and his assists,” Hurley said. “Rob Edwards really bounced back from the USC game and played very well. I kind of liked how our offense led us in this game. It’s been the defense mostly, and the rebounding, and tonight that really wasn’t the case. I think guys stepped up.”
At the half, Martin and Edwards combined for 22 points. Edwards led all scorers with 13, and Martin added nine.
Edwards was the shot-maker in the early part of the game. He was 4 of 6 from the field and 3-5 from three-point range.
However, the second half is when Martin entered the spotlight next to his counterpart. He scored 22 combined points between the second half and overtime, and finished the game with 31.
“I just did it for my guys and this whole ASU community,” said Martin of his big performance. “It’s personal (the rivalry). When it gets personal, it ups the level of intensity...It’s something that the team and I took upon ourselves to say, ‘Hey, make a turn in history, and keep it like that.’”
When a question was directed toward Martin in Thursday’s postgame press conference about his point total, senior forward Zylan Cheatham murmured under his breath with a smile and some bewilderment. He whispered over to Martin, “Dang, you had 31?”
Cheatham, who was a monster on the glass with 22 rebounds on Thursday, then elaborated on the play of his backcourt between Edwards and Martin combined.
“We all know he’s a great scorer (Edwards) and we all know what we can do, but to see him start to get in his rhythm and shooting confidently and not really thinking about it...It sparks our offense,” Cheatham said. “Remy had 31 I just found out, so if he is scoring like that, it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Last year when ASU lost down south at Arizona in a game where the Sun Devils could have been the number one team in the country if they won, both Cheatham and Edwards were on the sidelines as they awaited their opportunity to play. Beating Arizona and changing the narrative was something they discussed after the bitter loss.
It was a feeling the two transfers didn’t want to taste, and they wanted their crack to get off the sidelines and do something about it. Thursday night was their first chance to flip the script, and they delivered.
“I remember me and Rob just looked at each other like ‘Bro, we are going to turn it up next year,’” said Cheatham of recalling the memory. “We can’t keep going through this because it has been years...Me and Rob just talked about that. We had to change this for not only our sake, but Hurley’s sake.”
Led by the backcourt and Cheatham’s rebounds, ASU took down its in-state nemesis. Edwards and Martin shined, and for a team that is known for its size and defense, it was only fitting that the guards and the offense took center stage. After all, it wasn’t long ago that the basketball program in Tempe was labeled as “Guard U.”
Edwards and Martin gave flashes of the offensive guard play that was in full effect last season, and when asked if the showing was his best performance in college, Martin had an answer that many ASU fans would probably enjoy.
“Yes, because it was U of A...against U of A, it’s my best game ever.”