Sun Devils Meet Trojans for Pac-10 Men's Hoops Title
March 14, 2009
ASU MEETS TROJANS: The No. 23 (AP/ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 last year and 24-8 this season under 307-game winner Herb Sendek, meets the USC Trojans in the Pac-10 Tournament Championship in Staples Center Saturday at 3 p.m. PT. CBS has the call, while ESPN 860 AM has the radio locally. ASU finished at 11-7 in the Pac-10 and tied for third, its best Pac-10 finish since the 1994-95 Sweet Sixteen team finished third under Bill Frieder. The Sun Devils have clinched back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1979-80 team went 22-7 and the 1980-81 team went 24-4. That note becomes more noteworthy when you consider this...the last time ASU had back-to-back WINNING seasons was when the 1993-94 team went 15-13 and the 1994-95 team went 24-9 (both under Bill Frieder). Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden, a first-team All-American by Sporting News, CBSSports.com and FOXSports.com, is averaging 21.1 points per game after his 27-point effort vs. Arizona Thursday and his 24 points vs. Washington, while Jeff Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage at 65.9 percent and was even better in Pac-10 play (67.3 percent). After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 45-21 (.682) since and giving up just 61.0 points per game in his 95 games and are second in Pac-10 in points allowed this year at 59.9 per game, best by a Sun Devil team since 1948-49 (47.6). ASU has top-60 RPI road wins over UCLA (32), San Diego State (31) and Arizona (63) and has top 100 out-of-league wins over #28 BYU (10-0 at the time) and #84 UTEP at neutral sites and vs. #75 Nebraska (6-0 at time of game) in Tempe. ASU topped a team it beat twice (Arizona) and then a team it was swept by (Washington) to advance to its first Pac-10 Championship, and now will play USC, who it split games with.
VS. USC: On Feb. 15, ASU beat USC 65-63 and committed just four turnovers, its fewest since it had just four vs. Oregon State on March 9, 1991...ASU and USC have split the regular season series the past three years but USC topped ASU 59-55 in the Pac-10 Tournament last year...James Harden had a Pac-10 Tournament record seven steals in that game.
SO SOLID: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December in just three and a half years now has a school-record 117 starts (topping current NBA world champion Eddie House's 114) and is shooting .764 from the free throw line in his career (357-of-467) and 104-of-133 (.782) on the year...has 1,539 points in 123 career games (12.5 points per game) and 926 career rebounds (7.5 per game)...has 29 career double-doubles (11 this year)...also should set ASU record for career games, as Eddie House played in 124 and Jeff has played in 123, so he will tie...averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 boards in his past eight games...averaging 16.1 points and 10.0 boards in his past 12 while shooting 65.7 percent from the floor (71-of-108) and 78.5 percent (51-of-65) from the free throw line.
PROGRAM CHANGER: Since stepping onto campus last fall, all James Harden has done for Arizona State basketball is...help lead it to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since Jimmy Carter gave up his seat to Ronald Reagan (Reagan took office on Jan. 20, 1981) as ASU was 24-4 in 1980-81 and 22-7 in 1979-80)...go 5-0 against Arizona (best effort against the Wildcats since ASU won nine straight from 1979-83)...sweep UCLA this year for just the third time in school history...lead ASU to its largest win over a ranked opponent in school history with 22-point win over #17 Xavier on Dec. 17, 2007...lead ASU to its first top-10 road win since 1998 when it won at #9 UCLA this year...lead ASU to four straight Pac-10 road wins for the first time since 1980-81...ASU is 27-7 when he scores 20, including 14-4 this year.
GOING BACK TO CALI: ASU will play its 11th game this year in California against USC. It won at San Diego State (Nov. 18), at Stanford (Jan. 2), at UCLA (Jan. 17), vs. Arizona (March 12) and vs. Washington (March 13). It 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 76 Classic in Anaheim Nov. 27-30. It is 7-3 in California on the year.
PAC-10 TOURNAMENT RECAP: James Harden had 24 points and nine boards and ASU shot 50 percent and made 15-of-19 (.789) free throws to top Washington 75-65 Friday...ASU shot 25-of-48 (.521) from the floor and just six turnovers in its 68-56 win over Arizona Thursday and was led by James Harden's 27 points...ASU has now won five straight against Arizona for the first time since it won nine straight against the Wildcats from 1979-83.
RECENT HAPPENINGS: ASU ended one of the most impressive streaks in Pac-10 history on Feb. 12, as UCLA had won 32 straight front-end games of Pac-10 weekends (in other words, the Thursday game), a streak dating to a Jan. 20, 2005 home loss 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 over the No. 11 Bruins...ASU swept the Oregon trip Feb. 5-7, its first Pac-10 road sweep since January of 2005 and just its second Pac-10 road sweep in the past six seasons...ASU made 16-of-17 (.914) free throws at Oregon on Feb. 5, the third-best percentage in school history with a minimum of 15 attempts...ASU held Oregon State to 13 first-half points Feb. 7, ASU's best first-half defensive effort since it led Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995...ASU is averaging 10.5 turnovers in its past 15 contests...in the home sweep of UCLA and USC Feb. 12-15, Derek Glasser averaged 16.5 points, including a career-high 18 points vs. USC...James Harden has played 426 out of a possible 450 minutes in the past 11 games, including three 40-minute games...Jamelle McMillan was 14-of-27 (.480) from the three-point stripe in his past seven games before injuring himself against Stanford and missing the California and Arizona games.
KUKSIKS: Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 10.8 points, including 72-of-158 (.456) from the three-point stripe, in his past 25 games. He has posted double digits in 16 of his past 23 games.
GLASSER: Derek Glasser, who suffered a neck strain against Oregon and sat the OSU Feb. 7 road win, played 42 minutes without a turnover in the Jan. 17 overtime win at ninth-ranked UCLA and followed that up with clutch shots at Arizona on Jan. 21 and vs. No. 11 UCLA on Feb. 12. He is 175-of-212 (.825) from the free throw line and has played 18 turnover free games in his 95-game career.
SPARKY MAKES FREE THROWS: 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 shooting just above that pace this year (.741).
WIN AT 50: ASU is 29-1 when it shoots 50 percent under Herb Sendek and has won 27 straight. Its only loss was on Jan. 4, 2007, when it fell at Washington State 75-55 despite shooting 54.8 percent (23-of-42). It was 12-0 last year and is 15-0 this year when it shoots 50 percent.
ABOUT THAT 1980-81 TEAM: That 1980-81 team that went 24-4 had three starters become NBA first round draft picks in Alton Lister (21st overall pick in 1981), Fat Lever (11th pick in 1982) and Byron Scott (fourth pick in 1983).