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Men's hoops host Washington schools this weekend

January 22, 2008

SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State's men's hoops team, 14-3 and 4-1 in the Pac-10 under second-year coach Herb Sendek, is off to its best start since Byron Scott, Alton Lister and Fat Lever were filling the lanes in short shorts back in 1980-81 (19-3). After splitting the Bay Area trip with a wild 99-90 double-overtime Jan. 17 win over California that saw three Sun Devils post at least 25 points followed by a loss to current No. 20 Stanford on Saturday (67-52), No. 24 ASU finds itself tied atop the Pac-10 with No. 8 UCLA and No. 6 Washington State at 4-1. ASU takes on the Washington Huskies on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m. (no TV) and then hosts the sixth-ranked Cougars at 5 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 26/FSN Arizona). ASU is 4-1 in the Pac-10 for just the second time in the past 20 seasons (1988-89 to present), joining the 2002-2003 NCAA Tournament squad, and will be trying Thursday night to go 5-1 for the first time since the 1980-81 team went 11-1 to start the Pac-10. Before Saturday's defeat at Stanford, ASU had won 10 straight, including wins over Xavier, Arizona, Oregon and at California, the program's best streak since the 11-game run in 1980-81. Saturday's game will mark the first time WSU and ASU will meet as ranked teams. This year, ASU is 11-0 at home after going 7-11 (.389) last year in Tempe and is 3-0 in overtime.

RANKINGS NOTE: After starting 6-19 last year, ASU is 16-6 in its past 22 games and for the first time since the final poll of the 1995 season (March 13) the Sun Devils hit the Associated Press rankings, as they were No. 22 and also No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches' poll (Jan. 14). ASU is ranked No. 24 in this week's AP poll. Coach Sendek has the Sun Devils in the rankings in his second year, two years prior to his rebuilding effort at NC State that resulted in five straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-06).

QUICK TEAM STUFF: ASU's roster has an interesting mix as it includes one senior, five freshmen, three sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game last year (with Pac-10 leading 69 freshmen starts) and one of college hoops rising players in 6-9 junior Jeff Pendergraph, who in five Pac-10 games is 32-of-50 (.640) from the field and 18-of-22 (.818) from the foul line...ASU ranks first in the league in steals (7.06) and three-point shooting (.385) and second in assist/turnover ratio (1.25/24th in nation), field goal percentage (.494/12th), and turnovers per game (12.0/13th)...the Sun Devils also rank 20th in scoring defense (59.2 ppg.)...last year ASU won at California 42-41 on the last day of the regular season. This year it almost doubled the points as the game was tied 81-81 at the end of regulation before ASU won 99-90...the Pac-10's two youngest coaches meet on Saturday as WSU's Tony Benett (38, born June 1, 1969) and Herb Sendek (44, born Feb. 22, 1963) are the youngest followed by UW's Lorenzo Romar (49, born November 13, 1958).

REAL DEAL: ASU is led by the Pac-10's youngest player, freshman James Harden (turned 18 on Aug. 26), who leads the team in scoring (18.6 ppg./fourth in Pac-10), steals (1.71 per game/fourth in Pac-10) and minutes per game (32.9). He is shooting .554 from the field (eighth in Pac-10), .763 from the free throw line and .435 from the three-point stripe (tied for seventh in Pac-10). Harden is the first McDonald's All-American to sign with ASU out of high school since 1984 (it was Chris Sandle before you ask). He already has nine 20-point games, including five straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 17 which is a first for an ASU freshman. He is averaging 22.6 points and 5.4 boards in five Pac-10 games.

NATIONALLY: ASU nationally is 20th in scoring defense (59.2 ppg.), 12th in field goal percentage (.494), 13th in turnovers per game (12.0 per game) and 22nd in free throw percentage (.745). Sophomore Derek Glasser leads the Pac-10 and ranks second in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 3.75 per game, while Jeff Pendergraph is eighth in nation shooting 64.7 percent.

IN THE MIDDLE: Junior Jeff Pendergraph already has 26 blocks and is shooting .647 from the field (tops in the Pac-10) and .807 from the free throw line (eighth in the league). In his past eight games he is averaging 18.0 points and 7.5 boards and is 50-of-74 (.676) from the field and 44-of-53 (.830) from the foul line. He has three double-doubles this year and 16 in his career. A preseason Wooden Award Top-50 candidate, 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 the past 26 seasons.

RECAPPING CAL: ASU trailed 38-35 at the half but had three players notch 25 points as it topped Cal 99-90 in double overtime on Jan. 17. James Harden had 27 points, Jeff Pendergraph 26 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and Ty Abbott added 25 points and nine boards, including seven three-pointers...ASU shot 57.6 percent from the field, including 18-of-29 (.621) in the second half and outrebounded Cal 39-30...although ASU is 8-21 (.276) in Pac-10 road games the past four years, it is 4-0 at Cal in that time...the visiting team has won the past seven games in the series...ASU now leads the series 34-30 as the home team had won 21 of 26 before the current seven-game visitor streak.

FRESHMEN: Freshmen accounted for 69 of 150 starts in Herb Sendek's rookie 30-game season. Through 17 games, the numbers read 116 out of 235 starts in his 47-games. That means in his two years, ASU's has had freshmen make 49.4 percent of the starts. Sophomores have made 51 starts (.217), juniors 34 (.144) and seniors 34 (.147). Against Xavier on Dec. 15, ASU started four freshmen for the first time in school history.

MOVING UP: ASU was one of four teams who had more wins prior to Christmas than it did all of 2006-2007. The list included ASU (9-2 after 8-22 last year), Iona (5-7 after 2-28), Northern Colorado (5-6 after 4-24) and UNC-Wilmington (8-4 after 7-22). As of Jan. 21, ASU was the most improved team in the nation from last year in terms of wins.

Team 2006-07 2007-08 Wins Improved
Arizona State 8-22 14-3 +6
Iona 2-28 7-12 +5
San Jose State 5-25 9-8 +4
UNC Wilmington 7-22 11-8 +4
Cleveland State 10-21 14-5 +4
Denver 4-25 8-9 +4
Northern Colorado 4-24 8-10 +4

VS. UW: ASU leads the series 33-30 but the Huskies have won the past 10, the longest current streak in the Pac-10...ASU fell to the Huskies 59-51 last year in the Pac-10 Tournament on March 7, as ASU led 21-10 but UW outscored ASU 19-2 to close the first the Feb. 1 66-61 Husky win in Tempe, ASU fell behind 44-21 at the half and was behind 54-38 (12:10) and 61-50 (6:04) before going on a furious rally to cut the lead to 61-58 with just over a minute left...Christian Polk had 18 points as ASU held UW to just 5-of-21 (.238) from the floor in the second half and held UW to just 22 points in the second half...ASU and No. 24 Washington played a close game on Jan. 6 in Seattle before UW pulled away for a 64-53 final...Washington led 43-40 at the 10:36 mark but outscored ASU 21-13...UW hit 8-of-13 (.615) from the three-point stripe...ASU shot just 7-of-26 (.269) from the field in the second half.

QUICK NOTES: ASU held Pac-10 scoring leader Oregon (80.4 ppg.) to 54 points on Jan. 3, UO's fewest points in the past 59 games. Last year ASU fell at No. 13 Oregon 55-51 on Feb. 8, 2007, as the 55 points was a Duck season-low last year...ASU's 72-53 win on Jan. 5 over Oregon State was its biggest margin of victory in the Pac-10 since a 108-78 win over USC on Feb. 13, 2003...Derek Glasser has made 32-of-39 (.821) free throws this year and is 67-of-84 (.798) in his 47-game career. He had a career-high nine assists against Idaho on Dec. 22, the most by a Sun Devil since Antwi Atuahene had 10 vs. Oregon on Feb. 11, 2006 (most in past 53 games). Glasser has 59 assists and just 10 turnovers in the past 11 games and has 25 assists and two turnovers in Pac-10 play...Jerren Shipp matched a career-best with nine boards at California and played a career-best 42 minutes against Arizona on Jan. 9...Christian Polk is 43-of-54 (.796) from the foul line in his 44-game career...Ty Abbott has 45 three-pointers, fourth-best by a freshman in ASU history, and is third in the Pac-10 at 2.65 three-pointers per game...ASU has reached 70-points nine times in 17 games, last year it reached 70 points three times...James Harden has nine 20-point games, second-most in the league and first among freshmen...Coach Sendek has 31 career wins against ranked teams (14 over top-10 and eight over top-five). He notched his first at ASU in the final chance last year as ASU topped No. 22 USC 68-58 on Feb. 18, 2007, and won his first attempt this year with the 77-55 win over No. 17 Xavier on Dec. 15, the largest win over a ranked team in ASU history.

VS. WSU: ASU has won six of the past 12 against the Cougars and 12 of the past 20 and leads the series 32-29...ASU also is 5-1 in six overtime games against WSU...ASU held WSU to 12 second-half points (just four field goals) and scoreless for more than 11 minutes in the second half last year...Christian Polk took a three-pointer with no time remaining that hit the rim, backboard, and then rim and rolled out as ASU fell 48-47 on Feb. 3...a two-point game early in the second half got away from ASU in a 75-55 loss at Washington State on Jan. 4 in ASU's Pac-10 road opener last year...ASU shot 61.9 percent (13-of-21) in the first half...Jeff Pendergraph led ASU with 16 points and seven boards while Christian Polk had 13 points.

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

EXPECT THIS TO BE A STAPLE AT ASU: ASU is shooting .745 from the free throw line (263-of-353). Each of the five Sun Devils averaging more than 25 minutes are shooting at least 74 percent, and five of them are shooting better than 80 percent. 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, as his poorest FT shooting team was his first year (1996-97/.649). ASU is third in the league in FT shooting while Jeff Pendergraph is eighth (.807). One good note on Coach Herb Sendek and his 2003-04 NC State team is that in the past nine seasons, that NC State team's .799 final free throw percentage is tied for the best in the NCAA, along with St. Joseph in 2005-06.

STANFORD RECAP: ASU led 30-20 at the half against Stanford but when Jeff Pendergraph got his fourth foul early in the second half the Cardinal outscored ASU 40-19 the rest of the way to win 67-52...ASU led 32-20 early in the second half, but Stanford outrebounded ASU 39-25 and had 16 offensive rebounds and just nine turnovers...Stanford now leads the overall series 37-26...Pendergraph has shot 28-of-52 (.538) from the floor and averaged 14.2 points in the five games against Stanford.

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

(22)--ASU 77, #17 Xavier 55 (Dec. 15, 2007)
(20)--#5 ASU 87, @#1 Oregon State 67 (March 7, 1981)
(19)--ASU 89, #5 San Francisco 70 (Dec. 3, 1977)
(18)--ASU 71, #6 Colorado 53 (Dec. 21, 1962)
(17)--ASU 79, #13 Michigan 62 (Nov. 22, 1994)
(17)--ASU 95, #3 USC 78 (Dec. 1, 1971)

QUICKIES: ASU set a school record by making 73.3 percent of its three-pointers (11-of-15) against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Dec. 29. It also shot 72.1 percent from the field for the game (31-of-43), second-best in school history...James Harden, Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan started against Illinois on Nov. 19, the first time in school history that three freshmen started the opener...after averaging 58.5 points per game last year, ASU scored 54 in the first half against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 28. The 54 first-half points (most since 58-30 lead against USC on Feb. 13, 2003) was more than it scored in 10 games last year...ASU outrebounded Cal Poly by 29 on Nov. 26 (52-23), its best rebounding margin since a 49-19 output vs. American-Puerto Rico on Nov. 26, 1997...ASU also held Cal Poly to 14-of-55 (.255) from the floor, its best defensive effort since Dec. 2, 2000, when it held eventual NCAA Tournament bound BYU to 15-of-59 (.254), then held Delaware State to .208 shooting (11-of-53)...Jeff Pendergraph led the team in charges taken with 19 last year.

ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: The men's basketball team had another strong outing in the classroom this fall, as it posted a 2.91 grade point average and its cumulative GPA for the roster is now 2.95. In addition, two more former Sun Devils finished their degrees, as Bruno ClaudinoShawn Redhage (1999-2003/B.S. in Construction) both finished their degrees in December of 2007. Since 2004, 13 Sun Devil men's basketball players have graduated. (2005-2007/B.I.S) and

THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek is in his 15th season as a head coach and has averaged 18.7 wins per season. He led the Wolfpack to five straight NCAA appearances from 2002-06 and is now 276-183 (.601) in 15 seasons and was 191-132 (.591) at NC State. The 44-year-old (born Feb. 22, 1963) Pittsburgh, Pa., native is the second-youngest coach in the Pac-10 behind only second-year coach Tony Bennett of WSU. Only Duke posted more ACC wins (regular season and ACC Tournament) than NC State's 53 victories from 2002-2006. Coach Sendek also led NC State to five 20-win seasons in his final seven years. 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 at Arizona), Ralph Miller (19 at Oregon State), Mike Montgomery (18 at Stanford), Ben Braun (12th at California) and Ernie Kent (11th at Oregon).


NICE CARRY OVER: ASU won two of its final five last year, beating #22 USC 68-58 on Feb. 18 and then winning 42-41 at Cal March 3 in the regular season finale, matching the best defensive performance in ASU's 522-game Pac-10 history (ASU beat UW 53-41 on Jan. 31, 1991) and the best in a Pac-10 road game. ASU improved throughout last year as in the second half of the Pac-10 season, its scoring margin was less than a three-pointer (-2.5 per game). Although ASU went 8-22 last year and started 6-19, it is 16-6 in its past 22 games.

WHEN YOU PUT IT THIS WAY, IT REALLY IS IMPRESSIVE: Herb Sendek took NC State to the five straight NCAA Tournaments (2002-2006) prior to ASU. To compare it to the Pac-10, only three schools can match that in the 29 seasons since ASU and Arizona joined the league in 1978-79. Arizona (currently 23), UCLA (14 straight from 1989-2002) and Stanford (11 straight from 1995-2005) have had NCAA Tournaments streaks of more than five, but none of the other seven Pac-10 schools have gone to the NCAAs more than three straight times since the league expanded to 10 teams. In fact, Cal (2001-2003), Oregon State (1980-82 and 1988-90) and Washington (1984-86 and 2004-06) are the only schools to have made three straight in that time frame.

"THIS" CLOSE: ASU was in 14 games decided by five points or less, the most by an ASU squad in 23 years (1982-83 team had 17 of 33 games of five points). Fifteen of ASU's games were two-possession games (six points or less). ASU was in 21 games of 10 points or less, which led the Pac-10 and was in just nine games of 11+ point final margins, fewest in the loop. After losing five straight games by 20 total points (including three against ranked teams), ASU posted a 68-58 win over No. 22 USC on Feb. 18, its first win over a ranked team since March 20, 2003.

FRESH(MEN) STARTS: ASU freshmen made 69 starts in 2006-2007 -- Christian Polk (26), Jerren Shipp (22) and Derek Glasser (21). The 69 starts was the most in the Pac-10, ahead of Washington (68) and USC (65). Stanford (49), Cal (48), Arizona and Oregon State (43 ), Oregon (33), Washington State (4) and UCLA (1) complete the league's 423 freshmen starts. ASU freshmen have made 47 starts this year.

D IS GOOD: ASU was third in Pac-10 games in scoring defense at 61.7 ppg., and the other teams in the top seven were NCAA Tournament squads, as ASU ranked fourth in FG percentage defense (.437) in league games, despite blocking just 23 shots in 18 games (ninth in loop). ASU gave up just 61.8 points per game overall (fourth-best mark in ASU history), the lowest since 1949-50 (59.8). In 47 games under Herb Sendek, ASU is giving up just 60.9 points per game.