Men's Hoops Hosts USC Sunday At 8 p.m.

Feb. 14, 2009

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SUN DEVILS ONE WIN AWAY FROM BACK-TO-BACK 20-WIN SEASONS: The No. 18 (both AP and ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 19-5/8-4 this season under third-year head coach and 302-game winner Herb Sendek, takes on USC on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. MT on Fox Sports Net. ASU is coming off one of the best wins in recent Sun Devil history as ASU secured a regular-season sweep of three-time defending Pac-10 champion UCLA with a 74-67 win on Thursday by shooting 60 percent from the field (24-of-40), a season-best .611 (11-of-18) from the three-point stripe and .833 from the free throw line (15-of-18). ASU has clinched back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1993-94 team went 15-13 and the 1994-95 team went 24-9 and is one win away from clinching 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. From 1995-1996 until 2005-2006 (11 seasons after Sweet Sixteen), ASU went 5-66 against ranked foes (2-28 at home). Under Herb Sendek in the past three years ASU has five wins, four of them at home including Thursday's win over No. 11 UCLA.

James Harden entered Saturday 15th in the nation in scoring at 21.6 points per game while Jeff Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage at 67.3 percent, and is even better in Pac-10 play (69.2 percent).

After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 40-18 (.690) since and giving up just 61.1 points per game in his 88 games and are second in Pac-10 in points allowed this year at 58.8 per game, best by a Sun Devil team since 1948-49 (47.6) and 13th in the nation.

NOTES FROM UCLA GAME: ASU ended one of the most impressive streaks in Pac-10 history on Thursday in the 74-67 win over No. 11 UCLA. The Bruins had won 32 straight front ends of Pac-10 weekends (Thursday night games in most cases), a streak dating to a Jan. 20, 2005, loss to Stanford...ASU became the first team to sweep UCLA in the regular season series since Washington in 2005-06...ASU swept the series from UCLA for just the third time in its 31-year history (others in 2002-03 and 1979-80)...ASU had not shot 50 percent against UCLA in the previous 12 game, but shot 60 percent (12-of-20 in each half) and was 11-of-18 (.611) from the three-point stripe...after starting his ASU career 0-7 against ranked teams, Herb Sendek is 5-5 since.

RECENT HAPPENINGS: ASU swept the Oregon road trip last weekend, its first Pac-10 road sweep since January of 2005 and just its second Pac-10 road sweep in the past six seasons...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 in 2002-2003) and just ninth time in 31 Pac-10 seasons as in the previous three 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 school history with a minimum of 15 attempts, and was 15-of-18 (.833) against UCLA Thursday...James Harden's 36 points at Oregon on Thursday (Feb. 5) is the third-most in school history in a road game...ASU held Oregon State to 13 first-half points on Saturday (Feb. 7), ASU's best first-half defensive effort since it led Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995...ASU leads the Pac-10 in three-point defense, allowing just .326.

NEXT MAN UP: ASU was without a a starter in each of its two wins in Oregon last weekend. Rihards Kuksiks missed the Oregon game with a bad virus that kept him on the shelf all week, which meant ASU had to find his 10.4 points per game, his 30.7 minutes per game and 46.5 three-point shooting elsewhere. James Harden shouldered the load with the third-best road scoring output in ASU history with 36 points, including five three-pointers in 40 minutes. At Oregon State last Saturday, Jamelle McMillan had to step in for Derek Glasser at the point guard spot after Glasser had his neck snapped and bell rung by a pick late in the Oregon game and missed the Oregon State game with a neck strain. McMillan, who had started only one game all year (season opener), responded with career-highs in points (14), steals (five), minutes (39) and three-pointers (four) and did it in front of his dad, current Portland Trail Blazer coach Nate McMillan as the NBA travel schedule allowed him to be in Corvallis Saturday (who is expected to be in attendance at Sunday's game).

PRETTY NIFTY ROAD NOTE: With its Oregon road sweep last weekend, ASU has won four straight Pac-10 road games for the first time since the 1980-81 team won five straight and is 6-2 on the road overall. The 1980-81 team had three starters eventually become NBA first round draft picks in Alton Lister (21st overall pick in 1981), Fat Lever (11th overall pick in 1982) and Byron Scott (fourth overall pick in 1983). ASU has top-100 RPI road wins over UCLA (26), San Diego State (47), Arizona (53) and Stanford (82). ASU also has top 100 wins over #34 BYU and #87 UTEP at neutral sites and vs. #66 Nebraska in Tempe.

SUN DEVIL DATA: ASU has two wins over 10-0 teams (vs. BYU and at Stanford), a sweep of UCLA, a win at Arizona for the second straight year (just the third in 23 seasons as its road record is 6-2), a Nov. 18 win over RPI No. 47 San Diego State (its only loss at home) and a home win over RPI No. 66 Nebraska, who was 6-0 at the time...three Sun Devils are in double digits: James Harden (21.6, which leads the Pac-10), Jeff Pendergraph (13.8 and shooting 67.3 percent, tops in the nation) and Rihards Kuksiks (10.6, third in the nation at 47.7 three-point percentage per official NCAA standards.

STEADY JEFF: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December in justthree and a half years and has 109 career starts (tied for second-best in ASU history), is shooting .762 from the free throw line in his career (319-of-419) and is 66-of-84 (.786) on the year. He has 1,409 points in 115 career games (12.3 points per game) and 845 career rebounds (7.3 per game). He has 24 career double-doubles (six this year). Pendergraph leads the nation shooting 67.3 percent and is averaging 10.3 boards in his past six contests.

FIRST TIME IN 28 SEASONS: Arizona State did something in 19 days that no Pac-10 team had done in in the previous 27 seasons. ASU won at Stanford (Jan. 2), at UCLA (Jan. 17) and at Arizona (Jan. 21) as the last time a Pac-10 team won at those three NCAA Tournament regulars in the same season was in 1980-81 (Oregon State and USC).

KEY STAT: ASU is 25-1 when it shoots 50 percent under Herb Sendek and has won 22 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). ASU had 16 turnovers and forced just six. It was 12-0 last year and is 11-0 this year when it shoots 50 percent. Last time was on Jan. 16, 2003, when ASU was 28-of-47 (.596) from the field in a 75-64 Sun Devil win at Pauley Pavilion.

AUTOMATIC: Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 11.5 points, including 51-of-105 (.486) from the three-point stripe, in his past 17 games. He has posted double digits in 11 of his past 16 games.

VS. RANKED TEAMS: Coach Sendek now has 34 career wins against ranked foes after Thursday, including 12 top-10 wins in his past nine seasons...Herb Sendek is 2-1 against top 10 teams in his past three the nine years prior to Harden¹s arrival (1998-99 to 2006-07), ASU went 1-24 against top-10 teams. In its past three games against top-10 teams, ASU is 2-1 (seventh-ranked Stanford last year and atninth-ranked UCLA this year).

SOLID: Derek Glasser, who took a shot to the back on a pick and suffered a neck strain against Oregon and then sat the Oregon State road win on Feb. 7, 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 against UCLA on Feb. 12. He is 151-of-180 (.839) from the free throw line and has played 17 turnover free games in his 87-game career. In Pac-10 games he is 17-of-35 (.486) from the three-point stripe and 37-of-39 (.949) at the free throw line. In his first six games he was 2-of-13 (.154) from three-point stripe but is 25-of-50 (.500) in his past 17 games. He had a career-high 11 assists (most by a Sun Devil since Jason Braxton had 12 at USC on Jan. 17, 2004, a span of the past 159 games) vs. Oregon on Jan. 10 and has 112 assists and just 55 turnovers on the year. He has 343 career assists (3.93 per game), on pace to break the ASU record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87.

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, and is shooting just above that pace this year (.745). 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.

WINNING TOUGH ONES: ASU is 14-7 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 4-1 this year with victories at San Diego State, vs. IUPUI, vs. BYU and at Arizona...ASU has now won six straight overtime games after its 61-58 win at ninth-ranked UCLA on Jan. 17, with four of them away from its home arena.

STEPPING UP WHEN NEEDED: In the four games ASU has won when it trailed at the half (at SDSU, vs. IUPUI at Phoenix, vs. BYU at Glendale and at Arizona), James Harden is 13-18 (.722) from the floor, 4-5 (.800) from three and 24-31 (.774) from the foul line and is averaging 13.5 points in the second half. ASU is 4-1 when it trails at the half.

BIG GAME JAMES: James Harden, the most heralded Sun Devil southpaw since Phil Mickelson, became 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...first Sun Devil to score 40 points (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 58 career games, Harden has led ASU in scoring 42 times, rebounding 18 times and led it in assists in 24 games...has 30 career 20-point games and 14 this year (ASU is 24-6/11-3)...has five 30 +point games this year (33 vs. Pepperdine, 32 vs. Baylor, 40 vs. UTEP, 30 vs. BYU and 36 at Oregon)...36 points at Oregon on Feb. 5 is the third-most by a Sun Devil in a road game...11-of-11 from the foul line vs. Charlotte on Nov. 27...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...ASU is 8-6 in Pac-10 home games with Harden, in the previous four years, it was 9-27.

RALLY CAPS: ASU has fallen behind five times this year but rallied to win late. ASU trailed at Arizona at the half 21-18 on Jan. 21, was behind by eight midway through the first period and was down 37-33 at the 4:28 mark of he second half before rallying for a 53-47 win...on Jan. 17 against ninth-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, ASU was down 54-43 with just over eight minutes left but held UCLA scoreless the rest of the way and then won 61-58 in overtime...on Dec. 20 against previously undefeated BYU (10-0) in Glendale, ASU was down 66-56 at the 9:31 mark before outscoring BYU 20-9 for a 76-75 victory...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 matched the largest halftime deficit overcome in 15 years as ASU came back from 45-29 against New Mexico State in Tempe (NIT) on March 15, 2000...ASU also trailed at San Diego State 15-2 at the 12:46 mark but outscored the Aztecs 57-37.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD NOTE LAST YEAR, BUT WE MISSED IT, BUT IT IS STILL SOLID: ASU became just the second team in the 30-year history of the Pac-10 to lose at least 20 games one year (ASU was 8-22 in 2006-07) and then win at least 20 the next season (ASU was 21-13 in 2007-08). Only California in 1988-89 can match the feat, as it was 9-20 in 1987-88 and 20-13 in 1988-89. Miami (Fla.) also notched the feat last year, going 22-10 after going 12-20 in 2006-07, the first time in the ACC's 55 seasons that has happened. Texas A&M is the only team to do it in the 12-year history of the Big 12 , as it was 7-21 in 2003-04 and went 21-10 in 2004-05. Among the other major conferences, this manufactured note has never happened in the Big East (28 seasons), Big Ten (103 seasons) or the SEC (76 seasons).

THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek coached his 500th career game vs. UCLA Thursday and 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 302-198 (.603) 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.

AT HOME: ASU is 24-7 (.774) at home in the past two seasons (9-2 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.

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