If he permanently exits his midseason slump today, Jamelle Horne probably couldn't have picked a better time.

He's never beaten ASU at McKale Center.

"It's something I want to add to my accomplishments, to get a win," the Arizona Wildcats' senior forward said. "It's a rivalry game and we're going to expect a lot of fire. It'll probably come down to the wire."

Hopefully for coach Sean Miller, the hottest part of the fire will be located directly under Horne, whose play against the Sun Devils has generally mirrored the UA's effort in the previous two seasons.

During the UA's losses at McKale Center over the past two seasons, Horne has a total of nine points and seven rebounds, and he also had below-average totals in a 2008-09 UA loss at Tempe.

Here are five keys the Wildcats need to see today from Horne, who erupted for 16 points and 12 rebounds against Stanford on Sunday, whether he starts at forward or not:

A comfort zone

Miller said this week he might not decide whether to start Horne until today, but whatever he decides, the critical thing may be to press the right motivational button with the sometimes mercurial senior.

Does Horne prefer the honor of starting, or does he prefer to come off the bench? He's given indications both ways.

"I don't have a preference, but I honestly do feel comfortable, whether it's two minutes into a game or four minutes into a game," Horne said this week. "I honestly just liked sitting back those last three games and having a chance to see how the flow of the game was. … I like being part of the second squad."

Miller said he didn't know if Horne's personality suited him better off the bench, saying, "It's just for him to be centered on playing hard."

And while Horne indicated there's always pressure on the floor - "there's 14,000 people at our games" - Miller said it might be possible that the pressure of starting does affect Horne.

"Maybe," Miller said. "But whether he starts or not, he's playing the same amount. … Like I said, we need Jamelle to play well. We need everyone to play well. It's not fun to watch one or two guys be in the tank."

A good start

One of the primary responsibilities Miller has been looking for in Horne is rebounding, particularly on the offensive end. It will help if Horne can find success early.

"Sometimes as an offensive rebounder, you might have to go (to the boards) 12 times in a row to get one," Miller said. "Once in a while, the ball bounces your way, but in your first three or four attempts, if you get one or two, that's when it's fun. If it's not fun, it's like you gotta keep hitting that rock. You gotta keep hitting it until hopefully it breaks."


Miller says its common for any player to play better in other aspects of the game, such as rebounding, when they are shooting well - "You feel better when you're scoring," Miller says - but the main thing he's looking for in Horne is consistent effort, like he saw against Stanford.

"It's aggression. He really went after the ball with a lot of effort," Miller said. "Effort also frees up his teammates. As he's accounted for with great effort going to the glass, it allows someone like Derrick (Williams) to get one. Why? Because they're worried about blocking Jamelle out. Or Jamelle's tied up a player or two.

"That effort is something we talked about as early as late August, and when you watch our team, getting second shots is what we're after. We don't always do it well, but we're so much more difficult of a team to beat when we do that well."


Miller says Horne and fellow power forward Jesse Perry will have a particularly tough challenge defensively against ASU, because they will likely be facing a mobile perimeter player.

"They're going to have a difficult matchup," Miller said. "They're either going to be chasing a well-regarded shooter off of screens, potentially (Rihards) Kuksiks, or they're going to be matched up against one of two great one-on-one drivers, Trent Lockett or Carrick Felix."

Good chemistry

The easygoing Horne normally doesn't have trouble in that area. He even sweet-talked Williams into allowing him to collect a rebound late in Sunday's game.

"He stole one and we were laughing about it," Horne said. "I told him I would give him some ice cream or something if he let me get the next one. And he let me. We talked about it the full length of the court, all the way back to offense. I gotta give it to D-Will. He let me get the double-double."

Sort of. Horne actually had 12 rebounds in the game. But a couple of extra Horne rebounds certainly won't hurt the Arizona Wildcats.

Rim shots

• Late Friday afternoon, the UA ticket office had between 20 and 30 tickets left for today's game.

On StarNet: Check out an interactive insider preview of today's Arizona-ASU game at azstarnet.com/multimedia


• What: Arizona State at Arizona

• When: 12:30 p.m.


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Jamelle Horne vs. ASU

Jan. 21, 2009, Tucson: ASU 53, UA 47

FG 3-pts. Reb. Pts.

2-6 0-0 4 4

Feb. 22, 2009, Tempe: ASU 70, UA 68

FG 3-pts. Reb. Pts.

2-4 1-2 5 5

March 12, 2009, L.A.: ASU 68, UA 56

FG 3-pts. Reb. Pts.

3-4 2-2 9 8

Jan. 23, 2010, Tempe: UA 77, ASU 58

FG 3-pts. Reb. Pts.

4-7 3-4 4 11

Feb. 21, 2010, Tucson: ASU 73, UA 69

FG 3-pts. Reb. Pts.

2-4 1-3 3 5

Note: Horne did not play in either game vs. ASU in 2007-08.