Men's Hoops (10-1) Plays Host To Central Connecticut State Monday At 7 p.m.
Dec. 28, 2008
SUN DEVILS 10-1 FOR SECOND TIME IN 34 SEASONS: The No. 20/17 (Associated Press/ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 10-1 this season under third-year head coach Herb Sendek, meets the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils on Monday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m. before the Pac-10 begins on Jan. 2 at Stanford (8-0) and Jan. 4 at California (10-2). ASU hit a school-record 17 three-pointers in its last outing (90-55 win over Idaho State on Dec. 23), and won a thriller on Dec. 20 76-75 over previously undefeated BYU (27-8 last year) at University of Phoenix Stadium in the Stadium Shootout, the first hoop games played at the Arizona Cardinal facility that hosted Super Bowl last February. The Sun Devils are 10-1 for just the second time in 34 seasons (11-1 in 2004-05). The 1974-75 Sun Devil squad started 15-1 35 seasons ago, as did the 1962-63 team. Four Sun Devils are averaging in double digits: James Harden (23.7, which leads the Pac-10 and is eighth in the nation), Jeff Pendergraph (12.6), Ty Abbott (10.9) and Rihards Kuksiks (10.7). ASU came back from a 16-point halftime deficit to top IUPUI on Dec. 14 and then came back from a five-point halftime deficit and a 10-point deficit in the final 10 minutes vs. BYU, as the Sun Devils are 3-0 when trailing at the half after going 10-29 in Herb Sendek's first two seasons. Today's game is the first meeting between ASU and CCSU, who are approximately 2,580 miles apart.
AT HOME: ASU is 20-5 (.800) at home in the past two seasons (5-0 this year), as it won 15 home games for first time in the 32-year history of Wells Fargo Arena last year. It was15-5 with wins over NCAA Tournament teams Arizona, Xavier, Stanford, USC, Oregon and Coppin State.
SHOOTING IT: ASU is averaging 11 three-pointers made in the past six games (66-of-154/.429). It leads the Pac-10 in three-pointer made per game at 9.18... ASU shot .739 from the free throw line last year, the fifth-best mark in ASU history and second-best in past 21 seasons, and is at 75.3 percent this season (177-235), currently the second-best mark in school history and best in the Pac-10...ASU's starting five is shooting 77.8 percent from the free throw line (158-of-203).
SUN DEVIL DATA: James Harden has four 30-point games on the year, the most by a Sun Devil since Ike Diogu had six in 2004-2005. ASU is now 19-4 when Harden scores at least 20. After starting the season 2-of-14 (.143) from the three-point stripe in the first four games, he is 21-of-34 (.618) in the past seven games...after going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 31-14 (.689) since...ASU is 10-5 in the past two seasons in 10 points or less games after going 4-17 in Herb Sendek's first year...after going 10-29 in Herb Sendek's first two seasons when trailing at the half, ASU is 3-0 this year as it trailed at San Diego State and vs. IUPUI and BYU...ASU has now won five straight overtime games under Herb Sendek after its 59-58 overtime win over IUPUI on Dec. 14. Last year ASU was 4-0 in overtime, beating LSU in Maui 87-84 (Nov. 21), topping Arizona at home 64-59 (Jan. 9), winning at Cal in double overtime 99-90 (Jan. 17) and beating seventh-ranked Stanford 72-68 in Tempe (Feb. 14)...after losing its first 10 away from home (neutral or road games) in the Herb Sendek era, ASU is 12-10 since...in the Dec. 8 64-44 victory over previously undefeated Nebraska, ASU held the Huskers to 18 first-half points, ASU's second-best first-half defensive effort in the past six years (189 games)...the Sun Devils are giving up 61.5 points per game in Coach Sendek's 74 games...Ty Abbott has three eight-rebound games this year, he grabbed eight rebounds in two games all of last year...Derek Glasser is 113-of-140 (.807) from the free throw line in his career. He matched a career-high with nine assists vs. Idaho State, and had just one turnover in 29 minutes. He has 54 assists and just 23 turnovers on the year (2.34-to-1 ratio).
SHOOT IT KUKSIKS: In ASU's past five games, Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 14.4 points and 5.4 boards, including 20-of-37 (.540) from the three-point stripe. He averaged 26.6 minutes and 8.7 points in the final 12 games last year and made 25 three pointers. He has 222 points and 13 double-figure scoring games in his past 23 contests (9.65 ppg.) dating to last year after scoring 42 points in the first 22 games last season. The sophomore had the best game of his career on Dec. 14 in ASU's one-point overtime win over IUPUI. He matched his career high with 18 points (set previous game on Dec. 8 against Nebraska after setting then-career high with 16 vs. Jackson State on Dec. 4, so yes, that was three straight career-highs), made a career-high six three pointers, grabbed a career-best nine boards (after a then career-high six boards against Nebraska), matched a career-high with four assists and had a career-high three steals.
STEADY JEFF: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.A. in economics in December in just three and a half years, is shooting .762 from the free throw line in his career (288-of-378). He has 1,218 points in 102 career games (11.9 points per game) and 736 career rebounds (7.2 per game). He is averaging 8.5 boards in the past eight games and has 21 career double-doubles (three this year).
AT THE POINT: Derek Glasser made 58-of-69 (.841) free throws in 2007-08 and is 113-of-140 (.807) in his career. He matched a career-high with nine assists vs. Idaho State, and had just one turnover in 29 minutes. He has 54 assists and just 23 turnovers on the year (2.34-to-1 ratio). He also has 285 career asissts (3.8 per game), on pace to break the ASU career record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87.
ONE-POINT GAMES NOTE: The Dec. 20 BYU and Dec. 14 IUPUI contests marked for the first back-to-back one-point games for ASU since 2005-2006, as ASU lost to #7 UCLA 61-60 on Jan. 7 just two days after losing 66-65 to USC (Jan. 5). Prior to that, the last back-to-back one-point games were an 87-86 loss at #6 UCLA on Jan. 10, 1983, which was followed by a 75-74 loss at Washington State on Jan. 13, 1983. The BYU and IUPUI tilts marked the first-time in ASU history the Sun Devils posted back-to-back one-point wins. ASU is now 3-2 under Herb Sendek in one-point games.
WAY TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT THIS, BUT SO WHAT: James Harden enters play this week eighth in the nation in scoring at 23.7 points per game. Since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79, six Pac-10 players (seven occasions) have finished in the national top ten in scoring, with the most recent being Sun Devils (Eddie House in 1999-2000 and Ike Diogu in both 2003-2004 and 2004-2005). Diogu and House both led the Pac-10 in scoring those years, as did Sun Devil Jeremy Veal (20.8 in 1997-98) and Byron Scott (21.6 in 1982-83).
BIG GAME JAMES: James Harden is averaging 24.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in the past nine games, while shooting 57.3 percent from the field (66-of-115), 52.3 percent from the three-point stripe (22-of-42) and 81.3 percent (65-of-80) from the free throw line in that time...the first player to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks (Nov. 24 and Dec. 1) since Washington's Brandon Roy notched the feat in February of 2006 in three straight weeks...the first Sun Devil to score 40 points in a game (40 against UTEP on Nov. 30) since Eddie House had 40 vs. UCLA on Feb. 17, 2000, and just the third Sun Devil to notch 40 points (six occasions). Through 45 career games, Harden has led ASU in scoring 34 times, rebounding 15 times and led it in assists in 17 games...has 23 career 20-point games (ASU is 19-4)...has four 30 +point games this year (33 vs. Pepperdine, 32 vs. Baylor, 40 vs. UTEP, 30 vs. BYU)...11-of-11 from the foul line vs. Charlotte and is 80-of-100 (.800) from the free throw line on the year and 249-of-324 (.769) in his career.
DON'T COUNT THEM OUT: ASU has fallen behind early three times this year but came back to notch the win. On Dec. 20 against previoulsy undefeated BYU in Glendale, ASU was down 66-56 at the 9:31 mark before outscoring BYU 20-9 to win 76-75...against IUPUI on Dec. 14, ASU was down 18 early and 34-18 at the half but came back to win 59-58 in overtime. ASU outscored the Jaguars 15-3 in the final 8:27 to tie the game, as it marked the largest halftime deficit overcome since ASU came back from 45-29 deficit against New Mexico State in Tempe (NIT) on March 15, 2000...ASU also trailed San Diego State 15-2 at the 12:46 mark but outscored the Aztecs 57-37 to win...the Sun Devils came back from double-digit deficits in two big wins in 2007-08, as it put the brakes on a five-game losing skid in dramatic fashion on Feb. 10 in Tucson, falling behind 22-6 but coming back to take a 13-point second-half lead and winning 59-54 to sweep Arizona for the first time since 1994-95 (and notch first win in Tucson since March 11, 1995)...on Feb. 14 against seventh-ranked Stanford, ASU was down by 14 in the second half and by seven with 1:49 left before winning 72-68 in overtime.
HITTING FREEBIES: ASU shot .739 from the free throw line last year, the fifth-best mark in ASU history and second-best in past 21 seasons. In his 10 seasons at NC State, Coach Sendek's teams led the ACC four times in FT percentage (including three straight seasons, 2002-04). In 2004 NC State led the nation and set the ACC record by shooting .799 from the charity stripe. While at NC State, his squads shot 71.3 percent. One good note on his 2003-04 NC State team is in the past nine seasons, that squad's .799 FT percentage is tied for the best in the NCAA with St. Joseph in 2005-06. ASU has led the league twice in free throw percentage, in 1997-98 and in 1986-87, shooting 74.6 percent both years. Two Sun Devils have led the league as Alex Austin was 69-of-80 (.863) in 1988-89 and Chris Beasley was 112-of-128 (.875) in 1983-84.
PAST HARDEN FODDER: ASU is led in scoring by the most famous Sun Devil southpaw since Phil Mickelson, James Harden, who had an ASU freshman record 16 20-point games (tied for third in the Pac-10) last year...the 19-year old Harden (born August of 1989) was the youngest player in the Pac-10 in 2007-08 and he led the Pac-10 with 73 steals...in ASU's five Pac-10 home wins he averaged 23.4 points, six boards, three assists and two steals as he led ASU to 5-4 Pac-10 home mark. In the prevous four years, ASU was 9-27 in Pac-10 home games...was second on the team in assists (110), including 63 (3.5 per game) in Pac-10 games...in ASU's nine Pac-10 wins he averaged 20.0 points and 5.6 boards...shot 45.2 percent from three in road games.
TREE: Herb Sendek has eight former assistants who are D-I coaches as 12-year sidekick Mark Phelps earned the Drake spot after serving for 10 years on the staff at NC State and for two years at ASU. Former NC State sidekick John Groce also earned the Ohio University position. The others are Jim Christian, formerly at Kent State and now at TCU (Miami assistant from 1994-96), Charlie Coles at Miami of Ohio (Miami assistant from 1994-96), Larry Hunter at Western Carolina (NC State assistant from 2001-05), Ron Hunter of IUPUI (Miami assistant from 1993-94), Ohio State's Thad Matta (Miami assistant in 1994-95) and Xavier's Sean Miller (assistant at both Miami from 1994-96 and at NC State from 1996-2000). Coles, Miller and Matta led their teams to the 2007 NCAA Tournament, then last year Christian led Kent State to the NCAAs, Miller led Xavier to the Elite Eight and Matta's Buckeye squad won the NIT a year after going to the Final Four.
THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek is in his 16th season as a head coach and has averaged 18.7 wins per season. He led the NC State Wolfpack to five straight NCAA appearances from 2002-06 and is now 293-194 (.602) in 16 seasons and was 191-132 (.591) at NC State. The 45-year-old (born Feb. 22, 1963) Pittsburgh, Pa., native is the third-youngest coach in the Pac-10. Only Duke posted more ACC wins (regular season and ACC Tournament) than NC State's 53 victories from 2002-2006. Another overlooked note is his 10-year stay at NC State. To compare it to the Pac-10, since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79, only five coaches have coached at their schools for at least 10 years: Lute Olson (24/Arizona), Ralph Miller (19/Oregon State), Mike Montgomery (18/Stanford), Ben Braun (12/California) and Ernie Kent (12/Oregon).
GOING BACK TO CALI: ASU will play at least nine games this year in California. It won at San Diego State on Nov. 18, went 2-1 in the 76 Classic in Anaheim Nov. 27-30, plays at UCLA, USC, Stanford and California and will play at least one tilt in the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.