Skip to main content

ASU gears-up for Desert Classic showdown

December 11, 2008

#20 SUN DEVILS GO DOWNTOWN: The No. 20 (Associated Press) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 7-1 this season under third-year head coach Herb Sendek, takes on the IUPUI Jaguars (26-7 last season; 5-3 this year) on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 1:15 p.m. MT in the Desert Classic at U.S. Airways Arena in downtown Phoenix. Gonzaga and Arizona tip at 4 p.m. in the nightcap. ASU will then travel across Phoenix to Glendale to take on undefeated BYU (27-8 last year/9-0 this year) on Sat. Dec. 20, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in the Stadium Shootout, the first basketball games played at the Arizona Cardinal facility that hosted the Super Bowl last season. Louisville and Minnesota tip that twinbill at noon with ASU and BYU following. The Sun Devils are 7-1 for just the second time in 18 seasons and will try and go 8-1 for just the fourth time in 34 seasons. ASU was 11-1 in 2004-05, 9-1 in 1990-91 and 8-1 in 1980-81. The 1974-75 Sun Devil squad started 15-1 35 seasons ago. Senior Jeff Pendergraph will play his 100th career game for the Sun Devils on Sunday. Four Sun Devils are averaging in double digits: James Harden (25.5), Jeff Pendergraph (12.0), Ty Abbott (11.0) and Rihards Kuksiks (10.0).

AT U.S. AIRWAYS ARENA: ASU is 4-1 at U.S. Airways Arena and has won four straight at the home of the Phoenix Suns. ASU topped Temple on Dec. 9, 2004, beat Montana State 72-69 and Utah 71-62 in December of 2001 and beat UNLV 79-70 on Dec. 5, 1998, behind Eddie House's 39 points. ASU's only defeat was a 78-74 loss to Boston College on Dec. 5, 1993.

QUICK UPDATE: After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 28-14 (.667) Sunday's 64-44 victory over previously undefeated Nebraska (6-1), ASU held the Huskers to 18 first-half points, ASU's second-best first-half defensive effort in the past six years (186 games)...the Sun Devils are giving up 61.4 points per game in Coach Sendek's 72 games...ASU is shooting .771 (138-of-179) from the free throw line, the best mark in the league entering play this week. Last year ASU shot .739, the fifth-best mark in ASU history and second-best in past 21 seasons...after losing its first 10 away from home (neutral or road games) in the Herb Sendek era, ASU is 10-10 since...Ty Abbott three eight-rebound games this year, he grabbed eight rebounds in two games all of last year...ASU is 8-5 in the past two seasons in 10 points or less games under Herb Sendek after going 4-17 in his first year...Derek Glasser is 110-of-134 (.821) from the free throw line in his career.

BIG GAME JAMES: After starting the season 2-of-14 (.143) from the three-point stripe in the first four games, James Harden is 16-of-22 (.727) from the three-point stripe in the past four games...he has 106 points in his past 105 minutes played... is averaging 27.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in the past six games, while shooting 57.5 percent from the field (50-of-87), 56.7 percent from the three-point stripe (17-of-30) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line in that time...became the first player to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks since Washington's Brandon Roy notched the feat in February of 2006 in three straight weeks last week...became the first Sun Devil to score 40 points in a game with 40 against UTEP on Sunday (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 42 career games, Harden has led ASU in scoring 32 times, led it in rebounding 15 times and led it in assists in 16 games...has 22 career 20-point games (ASU is 18-4)...has three 30 +point games this year (33 vs. Pepperdine, 32 vs. Baylor and 40 vs. UTEP)...11-of-11 from the foul line vs. Charlotte and is 60-of-74 (.811) from the free throw line on the year and 229-of-298 (.768) in his career.

WAY TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT THIS, BUT SO WHAT: James Harden entered play this week third in the nation in scoring at 25.5 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).

STEADY JEFF: Jeff Pendergraph had 56 blocks last year (he had 45 in his first two seasons) and shot .593 from the field (third in the Pac-10) and .799 from the free throw line (tenth in Pac-10). He has 20 double-doubles in his career, including two this year. He is shooting .762 from the free throw line in his career (281-of-369). His 109 career blocks is sixth in ASU history. He became the 30th member of the ASU 1,000-point club against USC on March 1. He has 1,175 points in 99 career games (11.9 points per game) and 708 career rebounds (7.2 per game).

HERE WE GO WITH JAMES NOTES: 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-best in the Pac-10) last year and has 22 20-point games in his career (ASU is 18-4...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 ASU's four overtime games (all wins and three of them in Pac-10 games) he averaged 24.8 ppg and 5.5 rebounds and had 10 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 ASU's nine Pac-10 wins he shot 54.5 percent from the floor and was 13-27 from three-point stripe. He averaged 20.0 points and 5.6 boards in those games...shot 45.2 percent from three-point land in road games...through 42 career games, Harden has led/tied for the ASU lead in scoring 32 times and has done the same in rebounding on 15 occasions. He also has led or tied for the team lead in assists in 16 games. SLICK RICK (RIHARDS): Rihards Kuksiks averaged 26.6 minutes and 8.7 points in the final 12 games last year and made 25 three pointers and has posted his best back-to-back games recently. He posted a then career-high 16 points (with a career-high five three pointers) vs. Jackson State on Dec. 4 and then had 18 points and a career-high six boards vs. Nebraska n Dec. 7. He also posted 12 points and four three-pointers in the season opener vs. MVSU on Nov. 14 and 10 points and two big three-pointers in the win at San Diego State on Nov. 18. Last year, 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 184 points in his past 20 games (9.2 ppg.) dating to last year after scoring 42 in the first 22 games.

AT HOME: ASU is 19-5 (.792) at home in the past two seasons, as it won 15 home games for first time in the 32-year history of Wells Fargo Arena last year. It is was15-5 with wins over NCAA Tournament teams Arizona, Xavier, Stanford, USC, Oregon and Coppin State.

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.

GLASSER AT THE POINT: Derek Glasser made 58-of-69 (.841) free throws in 2007-08 and is 110-of-134 (.821) in his 72-game career. Glasser had 69 assists and 32 turnovers in Pac-10 play last year, a 2.16 ratio that was second in the league. He also has 270 career asissts (3.75), on pace to break the ASU career 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. 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.

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 290-194 (.599) 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).