Men's Hoops Hosts Two-Time Defending Champion Florida Tuesday At 6 p.m. On ESPN

March 21, 2008

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(Note: ASU's full release in PDF form will be posted Saturday)

SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-12 and 9-9 in thePac-10 under second-year coach Herb Sendek, continues its season with achance to become the nation's most improved team from one year ago as ithosts the two-time defending national chamnpion Florida Gators Tuesday at 6 p.m. (Arizona) on ESPN. ASU has posted a 20-win seasonfor just the fourth time in 27 years as the Sun Devils (picked to finishninth in the Pac-10 preseason media poll) notched nine Pac-10 wins for justthe third time in the past 13 seasons (11-7 in 2002-03 and 10-8 in1999-2000) and went 5-4 in the second half of the Pac-10 with road wins atNCAA-bound Arizona, Washington and Oregon State and home wins vs. theNCAA-bound duo of Stanford and USC. Only UCLA and ASU beat both Stanford andUSC, as ASU notched wins over RPI top-60 teams Xavier (9), Stanford (14),USC (28), Arizona (twice, 37) and Oregon (58). Freshmen have made aleague-leading and school record 93 starts, played more than 46 percent ofthe minutes and scored more than 52 percent of the points. Freshmen JamesHarden earned first-team All-Pac-10 and All-District IX USBWA honors whilejunior Jeff Pendergraph earned third-team accolades. Coach Herb Sendekearned the west coast media Coach of the Year accolades with his DistrictIX USBWA honors.

NIT QUICK RECAP: ASU topped Alabama State last Tuesday (March 18) in thefirst round of the NIT 64-53 behind James Harden's 25 points and 13 boardsas ASU opened up a 39-21 lead at the half. It then topped Southern Illinois65-51 on Thursday (March 20) behind 16 points, seven assists and six boardsfrom James Harden and 12 points, 10 boards and a school-record matchingeight blocks by Jeff Pendergraph. ASU held the Salukis to just 29.3 percentfrom the field (17-of-58).

BIG WIN: ASU was the only Pac-10 team to have a win over a RPI top-10 teamoutside the loop with its 77-55 victory over #9 Xavier, who is 20-4 sincethe loss on Dec. 15. The 22-point win is the largest over a ranked team inschool history. ASU had as many top 50 RPI wins as Arizona (five) and onemore than Washington State, USC and Oregon (four each).

MULTIPLE WINS OVER NCAA TOURNAMENTS TEAMS SEEDED #1-34-Pitt (Louisville, Duke and Georgetown twice)
3-Purdue (Louisville and Wisconsin twice); Texas (Tennessee, Kansas andUCLA); UCLA (Stanford three times)
2-Arizona State (Stanford and Xavier); Duke (North Carolina and Wisconsin);St. Joseph's (Xavier twice); Tennessee (Memphis and Xavier); USC (Stanford and UCLA)

STUFF TO KNOW: ASU is led in scoring by the most famous Sun Devil southpawsince Phil Mickelson, James Harden, who has an ASU freshman record 1620-point games on the year (seventh-best in school history). The 18-year oldHarden (born August of 1989) is the youngest player in the Pac-10 as his17.8 points per game is second-best in ASU freshman history and he leads thePac-10 with 72 steals, fifth-best by a freshman in Pac-10 history...ASU was5-4 at home in Pac-10 games after going 9-27 in Tempe the previous fourseasons...ASU is 23-15 after starting last year 6-19...ASU has won its shareof close games (7-4 in games decided by 10 points or less) and makes itsfree throws (.742 percentage is currently fifth-best in school history andsecond best in past 21 seasons)...ASU's winning record (5-4) in the backhalf of Pac-10 play was just the third for the Sun Devils in the past 13seasons.

TURNAROUND: ASU became just the fifth team in 30 years of the Pac-10 to gofrom a last-place finish (2-16 last year) to a .500 record in conferenceplay the next year. Washington State did it last year as Tony Bennett earnedNational Coach of the Year.LAST PLACE PAC-10 TEAMS TO REACH .500 IN LEAGUE THE FOLLOWING SEASON
Washington State from 3-15 in 1980-81 to 10-8 in 1981-82
California from 5-13 in 1987-88 to 10-8 (NIT) in 1988-89
Stanford from 2-16 in 1992-93 to 10-8 (NIT) in 1993-94
Washington State from 4-14 in 2005-06 to 13-5 (NCAAs) in 2006-07
Arizona State from 2-16 in 2006-07 to 9-9 (NIT) in 2007-08

THIEF: James Harden set the Pac-10 tournament record with seven stealsagainst USC (March 13). It is the most steals by a Sun Devil since EddieHouse had seven vs. Kansas State on Nov. 24, 1998, in the Maui Invitational.It marked just the ninth time a Sun Devil had at least seven steals.Harden's 72 steals is fifth-best in school history and is just four shy ofthe ASU record of 76 set by Fat Lever in 1981-82. He is averaging 3.7 stealsin the past six games.

ANOTHER FRESHMEN: Freshman Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 26.8 minutes and 9.3points in the past 11 games (second on the team) and has made 25 threepointers. He had 15 points in the win over seventh-ranked Stanford on Feb.14, 15 at Washington on Feb. 23 and 10 in March 1 win vs. USC. He has 96points in his past 10 games after scoring 42 in the first 22 games. In thesecond half of the Pac-10 season, four Sun Devil freshmen played 52 percentof the minutes, scored 54 percent of the points and made 53 three-pointers.

YOU READ THIS BEFORE: The Sun Devils had five wins over teams in the top 50of the RPI. ASU (5-7) beat #9 Xavier, #14 Stanford, had two wins over #37Arizona and beat No. #28 USC on March 1. Other Pac-10 records vs. the top-50include UCLA (11-2), Stanford (7-4), Arizona (5-8), Washington State (4-7),USC (4-8), Oregon (4-9), California (2-10) and Washington (2-10).

DON'T COUNT THEM OUT: The Sun Devils came back from double-digit deficits intwo big wins, as it put the brakes on a five-game losing skid in dramaticfashion on Feb. 10 in Tucson, falling behind 22-6 but coming back to take a13-point second-half lead and winning 59-54 to sweep Arizona for the firsttime since 1994-95 (and notch first win in Tucson since March 11, 1995). OnFeb. 14 against seventh-ranked Stanford, ASU was down by 14 in the secondhalf and by seven with 1:49 left before a rally put the game into overtimeas ASU won 72-68. On Feb. 16 against Cal, ASU made seven three-pointers inthe final 1:11 to chop an 11-point deficit to three before falling 76-73.

HEADING INTO THIS WEEK: ASU's scholarship roster has an interesting mix asit includes one senior, one junior, five freshmen, sophomore transfer andthree sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game last year...ASU rankssecond in the Pac-10 in steals (7.00) and is third in field goal percentagedefense (.405)...Sun Devils give up 61.7 ppg., which is fourth in theleague...Derek Glasser is second in the Pac-10 and 25th in the nation inassist/turnover ratio at 2.32...ASU is third in the Pac-10 in free throwpercentage at .742...Jeff Pendergraph is second in the Pac-10 in field goalpercentage (.592). The ASU record is .630 held by Trent Edwards in 1988-89.

A LOT OF MINUTES: James Harden and Ty Abbott both topped the pace set byByron Scott in 1979-80 for Sun Devil freshmen minutes played in the 18Pac-10 games. Harden averaged 35.9 minutes per game in the 18 league gameswhile Abbott finished at 34.8. Derek Glasser averaged 32.2 minutes last yearin Pac-10 play.

HARDEN ON DEFENSE/OFFENSE: James Harden is trying to become just the fifthfreshman to lead the Pac-10 in steals. The others are Jason Kidd of Cal (3.8spg/1993), Baron Davis of UCLA (2.4 spg/1998) and USC's Errick Craven (2.1spg/2002) and Gabe Pruitt (1.9 spg/2005). He also had 19 blocks, seventh onthe ASU freshmen list, two behind Tommy Smith (17 in 1999-2000) for thesixth spot. His 72 steals is fifth-best in Pac-10 history for a freshman.When you compare the points with the all-time freshman steals leaders, it issafe to say Harden could end up as the first freshmen in league history with70 steals and a 17.0 points per game average.

PAC-10 FRESHMEN STEALS LEADERS (PPG. AND RPG. ALSO)Player, School    Year    Steals    PPG    RPG1. Jason Kidd, Cal    1992-93    110    13.0    4.92. Baron Davis, UCLA    1997-98    77    11.7    4.02. Brevin Knight, Stanford    1993-94    77    11.1    3.94. Mike Bibby, Arizona    1996-97    76    13.5    3.25. James Harden , ASU    2007-2008    72    17.8    5.2

TURNAROUND II: ASU¹s 13-game turnaround in wins (ASU was 8-22 overall in2006-07) is currently the best by any major conference team and tied forsecond overall.

BEATING THE BEST: Since December of 2001 to March of 2005, Herb Sendek hasdefeated seven of the past eight NCAA champs. The only NCAA champion hisstaff has not defeated in the 1999-2007 period is Florida (2006-2007). Itknocked defending NCAA champion UCONN (1999 and 2004 champion) out of the2005 NCAA Tournament and has beaten past champions Michigan State (2000),Duke (2001), Maryland (2002), Syracuse (2003) and North Carolina (2005).

Date    Score    Opponent    NCAA Title SeasonJan. 26, 2003    86-77    North Carolina    2005 NCAA ChampionFeb. 25, 2003    75-67    @North Carolina (OT)    2005 NCAA ChampionMarch 20, 2005    65-62    vs. #13 UCONN (Worcester)    2004, 1999 NCAAChampionDec. 8, 2001    82-68    @#9 Syracuse    2003 NCAA ChampionMarch 9, 2002    86-82    vs. #2 Maryland (Charlotte)    2002 NCAA ChampionJan. 22, 2003    80-71    #3 Duke    2001 NCAA ChampionFeb. 15, 2004    78-74    #1 Duke    2001 NCAA ChampionMarch 15, 2002    69-58    vs. Michigan State (Wash. D.C.)    2000 NCAAChampion

MORE PENDERGRAPH: Jeff Pendergraph became the 30th member of the ASU1,000-point club against USC on March 1. He has 1,065 points in 90 careergames (11.8 points per game). He also has 652 career rebounds (7.2 pergame), just four away from joining the ASU top-10 list.

CLOSE GAME UPDATE: Last year, ASU was 4-17 in games decided by 10 points orless, but this year the Sun Devils are 7-4 with wins over LSU (87-84 inMaui), Montana State (66-62), Oregon (62-54), Arizona twice (64-59 in OT and59-54 in Tucson), at California (99-90 in double OT) and vs. seventh-rankedStanford (72-68 in OT). ASU lost its only overtime game last year but is 4-0this year with the wins over LSU, Arizona, at Cal and vs. #7 Stanford. Thefour overtime wins is the most by an ASU team since 1985-86 as the SunDevils were 4-2, while the school mark is 5-0 by the 1980-81 team. Also, ASUwas 3-12 in two-possession games last year (six points or less or OT) but is6-4 this year.

NIT: ASU is making its tenth appearance in the postseason NIT and has a 5-9(.357) markÂÂ�ASU's last appearance was at UNLV on March 17, 2005, when itfell 1999-2000, ASU beat New Mexico State 83-77 on March 15 inTempe but lost at North Carolina State, coached by Herb Sendek, 60-57 onMarch ...Herb Sendek is now 8-7 in the NIT as his 1999-2000 team made it thefinals after beating Tulane, ASU, Mississippi in home games and then beatWake Forest in New York City before losing to Penn State.

REAL DEAL: The Pac-10's youngest player, James Harden (turned 18 on Aug.26), leads ASU in scoring (17.8 ppg./tied for fourth in Pac-10), steals(2.20 per game/leads the Pac-10) and minutes per game (34.0/ninth inPac-10). He is shooting .525 from the field, .757 from the free throw lineand .408 from the three-point stripe. Harden is the first McDonald'sAll-American to sign with ASU out of high school since 1984 (it was ChrisSandle before you ask). He has 16 20-point games (topping Ike Diogu's ASUfreshmen record of 12) including five straight from Dec. 29-Jan. 17 which isa first for an ASU freshman. He averaged 18.2 points (tied for fifth) and5.1 boards in Pac-10 games and was the only player in the league to lead histeam in scoring in each of the first eight Pac-10 games. He was named as atop 30 midseason finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Awards (one of justsix freshmen on the Wooden list and one of seven Pac-10 players noted).

HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Arizona State improved by seven wins inleague play this year (2-16 to 9-9), one of just 11 teams to do that inleague history, and just the fourth team in the past 15 seasons (1994-95 topresent).

STEADY: Jeff Pendergraph has 56 blocks (he had 45 in his first two seasons)and is shooting .592 from the field (second in the Pac-10) and .799 from thefree throw line. He has five double-doubles this year (18 in career).Pendergraph led the team in scoring (12.1) and rebounding (9.1) last year,as his rebounding average matched the second-best mark by a Sun Devil in thepast 26 seasons. He is shooting .759 from the free throw line in his career(249-of-328). His 101 career blocks is sixth in ASU history.

SOME RANDOM HARDEN NOTES: In 37 minutes against a good defensive team in USCon March 1, Harden missed two shots out of 18. He was 7-of-8 from the fieldand 9-of-10 from the ASU's four overtime games (all wins and threeof them in Pac-10 games) he averaged 24.8 ppg and 5.5 rebounds and has 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 theprevous four years, ASU was 9-27 in Pac-10 home second on theteam in assists (107), including 63 (3.5 per game) in Pac-10 games...inASU's eight Pac-10 wins he shot 54.5 percent from the floor and was 13-27from three-point stripe. He averaged 20.0 points and 5.6 boards in thosenine games...shot 45.2 percent from three-point land in road games.

JUST HOW GOOD ARE THEY?: Coming into this season, only seven Pac-10 freshmanhad averaged 17.2 points or more in overall games. Currently there are fourfreshmen above that number. Only two Pac-10 freshmen have averaged 19 pointsand led their team to a NCAA Tournament berth (Ike Diogu of Arizona State in2002-03 and Shareef Abdur Rahim in 1995-96) prior to this year.

Pac-10 Freshmen Scoring ListRk.    Player, School, Year    PPG    Team Notes1.    Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Cal, 1995-96    21.1    NCAA team went 17-112.    O.J. Mayo, USC, 2007-08    20.7    NCAA team 21-12 and 11-73.    Harold Miner, USC, 1989-90    20.6    Team went 12-164.    Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, 2007-08    19.7    NCAA team 18-14 and 8-105.    Ike Diogu, ASU, 2002-03    19.0    NCAA team went 20-126.    Don McLean, UCLA, 1988-89    18.6    NCAA team went 21-107.    Cliff Robinson, USC, 1977-78    18.4    Team went 14-138.    James Harden, ASU, 2007-08    17.8    NIT team is 21-12 and 9-9 in NIT9.    Tom Lewis, USC, 1985-86    17.6    Team went 11-1710.    Kevin Love, UCLA, 2007-08    17.1    UCLA 31-3 overall and 16-211.    Todd Lichti, Stanford, 1985-86    17.2    Team went 14-16 overall12.    Ryan Anderson, California, 2006-07    16.3    Team went 16-17 overall13.    Jason Kapono, UCLA, 1999-2000    16.0    NCAA team went 21-1214.    Chase Budinger, Arizona, 2006-07    15.6    NCAA team went 20-1114.    Sean Elliott, Arizona, 1985-86    15.6    NCAA team went 23-9

PLAYER OF WEEK: Jeff Pendergraph earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honorsfollowing his Feb. 10 outing at Arizona when he posted 29 points on 12-of-16shooting and eight boards in 39 minutes in ASU's 59-54 win. Freshmen TyAbbott and James Harden became the fourth and fifth ASU freshmen to winPac-10 Player of the Week honors, as Abbott took home the Dec. 17 honorafter his 19-point performance in the 77-55 win over Xavier on Dec. 15 whichincluded five three pointers in the largest win over a ranked team in schoolhistory. Harden notched the honor after leading ASU to just its third 2-0start in Pac-10 history when they swept Oregon (Jan. 3) and Oregon State(Jan. 5) in Tempe to open Pac-10 play. Other Sun Devil freshman to earn thehonor are Ike Diogu (Feb. 16, 2003), Mario Bennett (Feb. 24, 1992) and ChrisSandle (Dec. 10, 1984). Seventeen ASU players have been named Pac-10 Playerof the Week on 26 occasions, but this year marks the first time in the25-year history of the award three separate Sun Devils have taken home thehonor.

AT HOME: ASU has won 15 home games for first time in the 32-year history ofWells Fargo Arena, as it is 15-4 this year with wins over NCAA Tournamentteams Arizona, Xavier, Stanford, USC, Oregon and Coppin State. ASUpreviously won 14 home games in 1974-75 (14-0), 1979-80 (14-3), 1980-81(14-1), 1990-91 (14-4), 1994-95 (14-3), 1997-98 (14-4), and 1999-2000(14-3).

TREE: Herb Sendek has six former assistants who are D-I head coaches: JimChristian, Kent State, Miami Assistant (1994-96); Charlie Coles, Miami(Ohio), Miami Assistant (1994-96); Larry Hunter, Western Carolina, NC StateAssistant (2001-05); Ron Hunter, IUPUI, Miami Assistant (1993-94); ThadMatta, Ohio State, Miami Assistant (1994-95) and Sean Miller, Xavier, Miami(1994-96) and NC State Assistant (1996-2000). Coles, Miller and Matta allled their teams to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

VS. RANKED TEAMS: Coach Sendek has 32 career wins against ranked foes,including 11 top-10 wins in his past eight seasons and seven top-five winsin his past dozen seasons. He notched his first at ASU in the final chancelast year as ASU topped No. 22 USC 68-58 on Feb. 18, 2007, and won his firstattempt this year, 77-55 over No. 17 Xavier on Dec. 15 (largest win over aranked team in ASU history)...against seventh-ranked Stanford on Feb. 14,ASU beat its highest ranked opponent since its 90-87 overtime win at No. 4Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998, and earned its first win over a top-10 team sinceJan. 23, 2002 (88-72 win over No. 10 Arizona in Tempe) also markedASU's first win over a top-10 team in Tempe not named Arizona since a 68-60win over fourth-ranked Oregon State on March 6, 1982...Herb Sendek has wonseven games against top five teams in the past 12 seasons.

RANKINGS: For the first time since the final poll of 1994-95 (March 13) ASUgrabbed a spot in the Associated Press rankings, as it was No. 22 (No. 25 inthe USA Today Coaches' poll on Jan. 14). ASU was ranked No. 24 in the Jan.21 AP poll. Coach Sendek had the Sun Devils in the rankings in his secondyear, two years prior to his rebuilding effort at NC State that resulted infive straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-06).

FRESHMEN: Freshmen accounted for 69 of 150 starts in Herb Sendek's rookie30-game season. Through 33 games, the numbers now read 162 out of 315 startsin his 63 games (freshmen have started 87 games this year). In his twoyears, ASU has had freshmen make 51.4 percent of the starts. Sophomores havemade 67 starts (.213), juniors 50 (.159) and seniors 36 (.114). AgainstXavier on Dec. 15, ASU started four freshmen for the first time in schoolhistory. ASU's freshmen have accounted for 52 percent of the points thisyear. Last year ASU's 69 freshmen starts set the school record by 24 startsthat the Sun Devils blew have easily surpassed.

THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek is in his 15th season as a head coach and hasaveraged 18.7 wins per season. He led the Wolfpack to five straight NCAAappearances from 2002-06 and is now 283-192 (.596) in 15 seasons and was191-132 (.591) at NC State. The 44-year-old (born Feb. 22, 1963) Pittsburgh,Pa., native is the second-youngest full-time coach in the Pac-10 behind onlysecond-year coach Tony Bennett of WSU. Only Duke posted more ACC wins(regular season and ACC Tournament) than NC State's 53 victories from2002-2006. Another overlooked note is his 10-year stay at NC State. Tocompare 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: LuteOlson (24 at Arizona), Ralph Miller (19 at Oregon State), Mike Montgomery(18 at Stanford), Ben Braun (12th at California) and Ernie Kent (11th atOregon).

QUICK NOTES: Derek Glasser has made 56-of-67 (.836) free throws this yearand is 91-of-112 (.813) in his 63-game career. He had a career-high nineassists against Idaho on Dec. 22, the most by a Sun Devil since AntwiAtuahene had 10 vs. Oregon on Feb. 11, 2006 (most in past 65 games). Glasserhad 69 assists and 32 turnovers in Pac-10 play, a 2.16 ratio that was secondin the league. He also has 228 career asists in just two seasons, more thanhalfway to the ASU career record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from1983-87...Jerren Shipp matched a career-best with nine boards at Californiaand played a career-best 42 minutes against Arizona on Jan. 9. He had aPac-10 season-high 11 points at Arizona on Feb. 10...Ty Abbott has 73three-pointers, best by a freshman in ASU history.

HITTING FREEBIES: ASU is shooting .742 from the free throw line, currentlythe fifth-best mark in ASU history and second-best in past 21 seasons. Inhis 10 seasons at NC State, Coach Sendek's teams led the ACC four times inFT percentage (including three straight seasons, 2002-04). In 2004 NC Stateled the nation and set the ACC record by shooting .799 from the charitystripe. While at NC State, his squads shot 71.3 percent, as his poorest FTshooting team was his first year (1996-97/.649). One good note on his2003-04 NC State team is in the past nine seasons, that squad's .799 FTpercentage is tied for the best in the NCAA with St. Joseph in 2005-06.

SOLID WIN: ASU has hosted the likes of Final Four-bound Kansas in 1990-91,Final-Four bound Oklahoma State in 1994-95, Texas, Georgia, KerryKittles-led Villanova, Kenny Thomas-led New Mexico, BYU, 2006 defending BigTen Tournament champ Iowa and Louisville since 1990, but No. 17 Xavier wasthe highest ranked non-conference foe to visit ASU since No. 14 ASU beat No.7 Ohio State 71-58 on Dec. 20, 1980. Xavier also was the firstnon-conference ranked foe to visit Tempe since No. 18 UTEP topped ASU 60-55on Dec. 18, 1983. ASU's 77-55 win over the Musketeers is the largest over aranked team in ASU history, topping ASU's only win over the nation'stop-ranked team, an 87-67 win at Oregon State on March 7, 1981. It wasASU's highest-ranked non-conference win since Nov. 23, 1994 (97-90 win overseventh-ranked Maryland in Maui) and Xavier's worst defeat since an 80-49loss to La Salle in the 1999-2000 season. ASU's 59.5 shooting percentage isthe best against Xavier since Elite Eight-bound St. Joseph's in 2003-2004shot 60 percent. St. Joseph's went undefeated in the regular season.

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