ASU hosts No. 20 Colorado in rematch of season opener

Ten weeks and nearly 6,800 miles later, Pac-12 rivals No. 20 Colorado and Arizona State will meet again Thursday in the only game that really matters between the two this season.

The Buffaloes beat Arizona State 81-71 in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 8 as part of the Pac-12's China initiative, but that game did not count in the conference standings.

This one does, and Colorado (13-3, 2-1) will attempt to cement its standing as a league favorite against an Arizona State team seeking to get back into the race after playing its first three league games on the road.

"It's a big road trip for us if we want to do what we want to do, which is compete for a conference championship," said Colorado coach Tad Boyle, whose team will face Arizona in Tucson on Saturday.

"You have to be able to win on the road to do that, and there's no time like the present. It's going to be a totally different game than the one in Shanghai."

Colorado has won six of seven while reaching No. 20 in the AP poll for the second time this season. Included are victories against two top teams -- now-No. 13 Dayton in overtime in Chicago on Dec. 21 and No. 8 Oregon at home on Jan. 2.

The Buffaloes lost to Oregon State after knocking off the Ducks 74-65 but responded with a 91-52 blowout over Utah last Sunday, after which Boyle said, "It just shows you what the ceiling of this team is going to be."

It has been a group effort.

In a five-game stretch that began with the Dayton game, point guard McKinley Wright IV is averaging 18.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds. Forward Tyler Bey is averaging 13.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. Center Evan Battey is averaging 10.4 points and 7.8 rebounds, and wing D'Shawn Schwartz is averaging 13.0 points. Schwartz hit a 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to beat Dayton 78-76.

"This is Colorado basketball," Battey said after the Utah game. "It's hard to beat us when we're playing like this."

The Buffaloes will look to reverse trends on this trip. They are 1-6 against Arizona State in Tempe and 0-7 against Arizona in Tucson since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Their only victory in Tempe was in 2012.

Arizona State had arguably the most difficult league schedule in the first two weeks, opening at Arizona before the trip to Oregon. The Sun Devils beat Oregon State 82-76 on Thursday before falling to Oregon 78-69.

Point guard Remy Martin had a big weekend in Oregon, scoring 53 points with six 3-pointers and nine assists. He has scored least 20 points in 10 games this season, including the last four.

"I let Remy be Remy," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. "If I follow him, he'll lead me to good places. I have a lot of trust in his talent and his ability. He is playing at an elite level.

"If we had the record that Oregon or some of these other teams have, people would be talking about him right now as player of the year in the conference."

In Shanghai, the Sun Devils played without two suspended starters -- center Romello White and wing Taeshon Cherry. White had five double-doubles in a six-game stretch in December and had 19 points and 18 rebounds last weekend. Cherry has started seven games but has just six points in 38 minutes of conference play.

Senior wing Rob Edwards, who had 20 points in China, emerged from a shooting slump last week with 29 points, making 7 of 13 3-pointers while coming off the bench for the first time this season.

"We had to do something there," Hurley said. "Didn't want to do it at all, but he responded like a really good player would. We desperately needed it, too. He stepped up."

--Field Level Media