Men's Hoops Plays Arizona Thursday At Noon At Pac-10 Tournament

March 10, 2009

ASU TRIES FOR THREE VS. CATS: The No. 23 (AP and ESPN Coaches' Poll) ArizonaState's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and22-8/11-7 this season under 305-game winner Herb Sendek, opens the Pac-10Tournament in Staples Center Thursday at noon against Arizona. Fox SportsNet has the call, while 620 KTAR AM has the radio locally. ASU finished at11-7 in the Pac-10 and tied for third, its best Pac-10 finish since the1994-95 Sweet Sixteen team finished third under Bill Frieder, and will tryand beat Arizona for the fifth straight time. The Sun Devils have clinchedback-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1979-80 team went22-7 and the 1980-81 team went 24-4. That note becomes more noteworthy whenyou consider this...the last time ASU had back-to-back WINNING seasons waswhen the 1993-94 team went 15-13 and the 1994-95 team went 24-9. Pac-10Player of the Year James Harden, a midseason finalist for the Naismith andWooden Awards and one of the 15 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy,enters this week 21st in the nation in scoring at 20.8 points per game,while Jeff Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage at 66.5percent and was even better in Pac-10 play (67.3 percent). Sophomoreswingman Rihards Kuksiks also enters the nation rankings conversation as heis sixth per official NCAA standards at 45.6 in three-point percentage.After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are43-21 (.672) since and giving up just 61.1 points per game in his 94 gamesand are second in Pac-10 in points allowed this year at 59.8 per game, bestby a Sun Devil team since 1948-49 (47.6) and 21st in the nation.

HEAVIEST BACKPACK IN COLLEGE HOOPS: Since stepping onto campus last fall,all James Harden has done for Arizona State basketball lead it toback-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since Jimmy Carter gave uphis seat to Ronald Reagan (Reagan took office on Jan. 20, 1981) as ASU was24-4 in 1980-81 and 22-7 in 1979-80)...go 4-0 against Arizona (ASU's besteffort against the Wildcats since ASU won nine straight from1979-83)...sweep UCLA this year for just the third time in schoolhistory...lead ASU to its largest win over a ranked opponent in schoolhistory with 22-point win over #17 Xavier on Dec. 17, 2007...lead ASU to itsfirst top-10 road win since 1998 when it won at #9 UCLA earlier thisyear...lead ASU to four straight Pac-10 road wins for the first time since1980-81.

SO SOLID: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December injust three and a half years now has a school-record 115 starts (toppingcurrent NBA world champion Eddie House's 114) and is shooting .761 from thefree throw line in his career (351-of-461) and 98-of-127 (.772) on theyear...has 1,511 points in 121 career games (12.5 points per game) and 910career rebounds (7.5 per game)...has 29 career double-doubles (11 thisyear)...also has a chance to set ASU record for career games, as Eddie Houseplayed in 124 and Jeff has played in 121...averaging 17.0 points, 10.8boards and 40.3 minutes in his past six games...averaging 16.5 points and10.3 boards in his past 10 games while shooting 67.4 percent from the floor(60-of-89) and 76.3 percent (45-of-59) from the free throw line.

TEAM RANKINGS: ASU ranks 21st in nation and second in Pac-10 in scoringdefense (59.8 ppg.). WSU leads the nation at 55.2...ASU is fourth in Pac-10and 27th in nation in field goal percentage at 47.8 percent...ASU leads thePac-10 and is 30th in the nation in three-point field goals made per game(8.1)...ASU leads the Pac-10 in three-point defense (.317)...ASU is thirdin the Pac-10 and 27th in the nation in free throw percentage (.741)...ASUis second in the Pac-10 in assists per game (15.7)...ASU leads the Pac-10and is 13th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32)...ASU is secondin the Pac-10 and 22nd in nation at 11.8 turnovers per game.

VS. UA: In the most recent meeting, ASU came out blazing, making 10-of-16(.625) three-pointers in the first half and led by 17 in the second halfbefore Arizona rallied to take the lead on Feb. 22. But Rihards Kuksiks hittwo mammoth threes in the final minutes to lift ASU to a 70-68 win...ASU hasnow won four straight against Arizona for the first time since it won ninestraight against the Wildcats from 1979-83...ASU has held the Wildcats tojust 60.0 points per game in six games under Herb Sendek, while in the 39games prior (1987-88 season through 2005-06) Arizona had averaged ASU's past four games against Arizona (all wins), JeffPendergraph is 24-of-38 (.632) from the floor, 22-of-26 (.846) from the foulline and is averaging 17.5 points and 10.0 rebounds...ASU swept the regularseason series against Arizona for just the seventh time in its 30 years ofPac-10 play, with ASU winning both games for four straight seasons from1979-83, in 1994-95 and then last season...ASU is 11-0 against Arizona whenit is ranked, which it will be this week as the Sun Devils are No. 23 inboth the past four games against UA, ASU has held the Wildcats to24-of-78 (.307) from the three-point stripe and just 75-of-203 (.369) fromthe field.

IT NEVER HAPPENS, BUT IT DID: Feb. 26-28 marked just the second time inASU's 31-years of Pac-10 play it played back-to-back overtime games in thesame Pac-10 weekend (and first time it occurred on a road trip)...ASU didplay back-to-back overtime games last year when it beat Arizona 59-54 onJan. 9 and then won at California 99-90 on Jan. 17, but those games wereeight days apart...the only other time ASU had played overtime in both gamesof a Pac-10 twinbill was on Feb. 12-14, 2004, when it beat UCLA 74-62 andthen lost to USC 93-84 in marked the first time in ASU historyASU had lost back-to-back overtime games...ASU entered that weekend winnersof its past six overtime games and 5-0 in games decided by six points marked just the third time in the past 23 seasons ASU playedback-to-back overtime games.

PAST TWO SEASONS: ASU is 20-16 (.556) in the past two seasons in Pac-10play, tied for the third-best mark in the league behind UCLA (29-7/.806) andWashington (21-15/.583). The rest of the Pac-10 in the past two years: USC20-16 (.556), Washington State 19-17 (.528), Stanford 19-17 (.528), Arizona17-19 (.472), Cal 17-19 (.472), Oregon 11-25 (.306) and Oregon State 7-29(.194).

STATS LLC DOES IT AGAIN: The folks at STATS LLC worked overtime on this one.James Harden is arguably one of the nation¹s best all-around players,averaging 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting50.4 percent from the field. Since the 1996-97 season, only five otherplayers have averaged at least 20 points, five boards and four dimes pergame and shot over 50 percent from the field.

DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED: ASU had an eight-game win-streak from Nov.30-Jan. 2, its third-longest in the past 28 seasons. Last year ASU won 10straight, while the 2004-05 team won nine straight. It also won fivestraight in Pac-10 play Feb. 5-22, its best Pac-10 streak since it won fivestraight in 1994-95.

RECENT HAPPENINGS: Coach Sendek, the second-youngest active coach with 300Division I wins, celebrated his 46th birthday on Feb. 22 as ASU completed anArizona sweep for the second straight year with a 70-68 win, ASU's firstfour-game win streak over the Wildcats since a nine-game streak from1979-83...ASU ended one of the most impressive streaks in Pac-10 history onFeb. 12, as UCLA had won 32 straight front-end games of Pac-10 weekends (inother words, the Thursday game), a streak dating to a Jan. 20, 2005 homeloss to Stanford. ASU shot 60 percent (24-of-40) from the floor, 11-of-18(.611) from the three-point stripe and 15-of-18 (.833) in its 74-67 win overthe No. 11 Bruins...on Feb. 15, ASU beat USC 65-63 and committed just fourturnovers, its fewest since it had just four vs. Oregon State on March 9,1991..ASU swept the Oregon trip Feb. 5-7, its first Pac-10 road sweep sinceJanuary of 2005 and just its second Pac-10 road sweep in the past sixseasons...ASU had a winning record at the halfway point of the Pac-10 season(5-4) for just the second time in the past 14 seasons (also 5-4 in2002-2003) and just ninth time in 31 Pac-10 seasons, as in the previousthree years it was 5-22 in the first half of Pac-10 play...ASU made 16-of-17(.914) free throws at Oregon on Feb. 5, the third-best percentage in schoolhistory with a minimum of 15 attempts...ASU held Oregon State to 13first-half points Feb. 7, ASU's best first-half defensive effort since itled Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995...ASU is averaging 10.8 turnovers inits past 13 the home sweep of UCLA and USC Feb. 12-15, DerekGlasser averaged 16.5 points, including a career-high 18 points vs.USC...James Harden has played 351 out of a possible 370 minutes in the pastnine games, including three 40-minute games...Jamelle McMillan was 14-of-27(.480) from the three-point stripe in his past seven games before injuringhimself against Stanford and missing the California game.

GOING BACK TO CALI: ASU will play tenth game this year in California onThursday against Arizona. It won at San Diego State (Nov. 18), at Stanford(Jan. 2) and at UCLA (Jan. 17), lost at Cal (Jan. 4) and at USC (Jan. 15)and went 2-1 (wins vs. Charlotte and UTEP and loss to Baylor) in the 76Classic in Anaheim Nov. 27-30.

ROAD NOTES: With its Oregon road sweep Feb. 5-7, ASU won four straightPac-10 road games for the first time since the 1980-81 team won fivestraight and finished 6-4 on the road overall. That 1980-81 team had threestarters become NBA first round draft picks in Alton Lister (21st overallpick in 1981), Fat Lever (11th pick in 1982) and Byron Scott (fourth pick in1983). ASU has top-60 RPI road wins over UCLA (29), San Diego State (43) andArizona (52) and has top 100 out-of-league wins over #21 BYU (10-0 at thetime) and #78 UTEP at neutral sites and vs. #68 Nebraska (6-0 at time ofgame) in Tempe. ASU won five Pac-10 road games for just the fifth time inits 31-year history. It went 8-1 in 1980-81, 7-2 in 1979-80 and 5-4 in1994-94 and 1982-83.

NEXT MAN UP: ASU was without a a starter in each of its wins in Oregon onFeb. 5-7. Rihards Kuksiks missed the Feb. 5 Oregon game with a bad virusthat kept him on the shelf all week, as ASU had to find his 10.4 points pergame, his 30.7 minutes per game and 46.5 three-point shooting from someoneelse. James Harden shouldered the load with 36 points, including fivethree-pointers in 40 minutes. At Oregon State on Feb. 7, Jamelle McMillanhad to step in for Derek Glasser at the point guard spot after Glasser hadhis neck snapped and bell rung by a pick late in the Oregon game and missedthe Beaver game with a neck strain. McMillan, who had started only one gameall year (season opener), responded with career-highs in points (14), steals(five), minutes (39) and three-pointers (four) and did it in front of hisdad, current Portland Trail Blazer coach Nate McMillan, as the NBA travelschedule allowed him to be in Corvallis Saturday.

BIG WIN: ASU's win at No. 9 UCLA on Jan. 17 was its first top-10 road winsince it beat fourth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998, and just the secondin the past 24 seasons. ASU won at Pauley Pavilion for just the sixth timein 32 times, and just the third time in the past 22 seasons. Herb Sendek nowhas 34 wins against ranked teams in his career and five at ASU. In the pastfive years he has 15 wins against ranked teams and a dozen top-10 wins inhis past nine seasons.

IF THIS WAS FOOTBALL, HE WOULD RETURN PUNTS AS WELL: James Harden currentlyleads the Pac-10 in scoring (20.8) and is second in steals (1.7). Only fourplayers have notched the offense/defense duo in the 30-year history of theleague (no one in the past nine years), the last being Jason Terry ofArizona in 1998-99 with 21.9 points per game and 2.8 steals per game. Othersare Terrell Brandon of Oregon in 1990-91 (26.6/2.3), Gary Payton of OregonState in 1989-90 (25.7/3.4) and Don Collins of WSU in 1978-79 (23.1/2.7).

FIRST TIME IN 28: ASU did something in 19 days that no other Pac-10 team hasdone in 28 seasons. ASU won at Stanford (Jan. 2), at UCLA (Jan. 17) and atArizona (Jan. 21) as the last time a Pac-10 team won at those three NCAATournament regulars in the same season was in 1980-81 (Oregon State andUSC). The only time ASU won at all three was in 1979-80. ASU was a combined22-69 (.242) in games at Maples, Pauley and McKale entering play this year,but won all three games in a span of 19 days with a 90-60 win at Stanford, a61-58 overtime win at #9 UCLA and a 53-47 grinder at Arizona.

AUTOMATIC: Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 11.5 points, including70-of-149 (.469) from the three-point stripe, in his past 23 games. He isaveraging 10.1 points and has 24 double-figure scoring games in his past 41contests dating to last year after scoring 42 points in his first 22 games.He has posted double digits in 15 of his past 21 games.

SOLID: Derek Glasser, who suffered a neck strain against Oregon and sat theOSU Feb. 7 road win, played 42 minutes without a turnover in the Jan. 17overtime win at ninth-ranked UCLA and followed that up with clutch shots atArizona on Jan. 21 and vs. No. 11 UCLA on Feb. 12. He is 171-of-206 (.830)from the free throw line and has played 18 turnover free games in his93-game career. In Pac-10 games he finished 26-of-61 (.426) from thethree-point stripe and 57-of-65 (.877) at the free throw line (fourth in theleague). In his first six games he was 2-of-13 (.154) from three-pointstripe but is 34-of-75 (.453) in his past 23 games. He had a career-high 11assists vs. Oregon on Jan. 10 and against Cal on March 7 and has 141 assistsand just 65 turnovers on the year (2.20-to-1 ratio, tied for first in theleague). He has 372 career assists (4.0 per game), on pace to break the ASUrecord of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87.

300: Even after coaching in 506 games at three schools, six NCAAtournaments, and having eight former assistants currently serving as headcoaches at the Division-I level, Herb Sendek is still the third-youngestcoach in the Pac-10 even with two new hires. Oregon State's Craig Robinsonis a little older than Coach Sendek (about 10 months) while Stanford'sJohnny Dawkins is about seven months younger. Coach Sendek is thesecond-youngest active coach with 300 Division I wins, only Florida's BillyDonovan is younger, as he is 43 years old (born May 30, 1965).

ODDS AND ENDS: ASU shot 16-of-18 (.889) from the field in the second halfagainst Oregon State on Jan. 8...ASU shot 65.3 percent in its Dec. 29 winover Central Connecticut State, including 14-of-14 from inside thethree-point arc in the first half...ASU hit a school-record 17three-pointers in its 90-55 Dec. 23 win over Idaho State...ASU is 27-1 whenit shoots 50 percent under Herb Sendek and has won 25 straight. Its onlyloss was on Jan. 4, 2007, when it fell at Washington State 75-55 despiteshooting 54.8 percent (23-of-42). It was 12-0 last year and is 13-0 thisyear when it shoots 50 percent.

NO TO's: ASU had eight turnovers in the overtime win at UCLA on Jan. 17, thefewest turnovers on the road since Feb. 12, 2005, when it also had eight atUSC. Derek Glasser had zero turnovers in 42 minutes. ASU followed that upwith nine turnovers at Arizona on Jan. 21, and then had just six turnoversvs. Washington State on Jan. 29. But its top performance was its fourturnovers vs. USC on Feb. 15, fewest in a game since ASU had just fouragainst Oregon State on March 9, 1991.

HITTING FREEBIES: ASU shot .739 from the free throw line last year, thefifth-best mark in ASU history and second-best in past 21 seasons, and isshooting just above that pace this year (.741). In his 10 seasons at NCState, Coach Sendek's teams led the ACC four times in FT percentage(including three straight seasons, 2002-04). In 2004 NC State led the nationand set the ACC record by shooting .799 from the charity stripe. While at NCState, his squads shot 71.3 percent. One good note on his 2003-04 NC Stateteam is in the past nine seasons, that squad's .799 FT percentage is tiedfor the best in the NCAA with St. Joseph in 2005-06. ASU has led the leaguetwice in free throw percentage, in 1997-98 and in 1986-87, shooting 74.6percent both years.

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