Grand Canyon, ASU to meet as D1 men’s basketball opponents for first time

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 6/11/20

Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University will begin a home-and-home men’s basketball series with the Sun Devils visiting GCU Arena in the upcoming 2020-21 season.

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Grand Canyon, ASU to meet as D1 men’s basketball opponents for first time

Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University will meet during the 2020-21 season for the first time as Division I opponents.
Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University will meet during the 2020-21 season for the first time as Division I opponents.
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Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University will begin a home-and-home men’s basketball series with the Sun Devils visiting GCU Arena in the upcoming 2020-21 season.

The clash between Valley of the Sun neighbors will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at GCU Arena. In return, the Lopes will pay a visit to Desert Financial Arena in the 2021-22 season, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to play a series with Arizona State,” first-year Lopes head coach Bryce Drew said in a prepared statement.

“[ASU head coach] Bobby Hurley has built one of the better programs in the country, and this will be a series that the Phoenix area will be very excited for.”

GCU and ASU never have met at the Division I level, but the teams did take to the court for exhibition action in 2011, to mark the opening of GCU Arena. The lone official meeting between the programs took place 40 years ago with the DI Devils claiming an 80-68 win over the NAIA Lopes in Tempe.

“Congratulations to Coach Drew and to Coach Hurley for getting this set up,” GCU President Brian Mueller said in a prepared statement.

“This is going to be a great event for the two universities, their students, alumni and fan bases. It will be a fantastic way to showcase college basketball in the Valley.”

Arizona State went 20-11 last season and posted an 11-7 mark in Pac-12 play, good for a third-place tie in the regular-season standings. The Sun Devils hung their hats on an aggressive defense that ranked 19th nationally in turnovers forced and were on course for a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

“We look forward to starting a series with Grand Canyon at GCU this season,” Mr. Hurley said in a prepared statement. “Bryce Drew and his family are well known in the college basketball world, and as we welcome him to the Valley, it made sense to have an efficient home-and-home with his program.”

With the matchup finalized, the Lopes will have faced every in-state opponent at the DI level since transitioning seven years ago. GCU played at Arizona in 2016 and faced Northern Arizona at home in 2015 and away in 2013.

“This is a great opportunity for two local programs with history of success in collegiate basketball to finally meet on the court,” Arizona State President Michael Crow said in a prepared statement.

“We hope it is the beginning of a new spirited rivalry between universities who have long contributed to the culture of the Valley, now in a new and entertaining way.”

Mr. Drew was named GCU’s head coach on March 17 and will lead a new-look Lopes squad. The Lopes return the likes of two-time All-WAC honoree Alessandro Lever and reigning WAC Freshman of the Year Jovan Blacksher Jr. to a roster that features the addition of seven newcomers.

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