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Men's hoops hosts Stanford on Thursday

February 11, 2008

SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State's men's hoops team, 15-7 and 5-5 in the Pac-10 under second-year coach Herb Sendek, hosts one of the hottest teams in the nation in the seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. MST and then hosts the high-scoring California Golden Bears on Saturday (Feb. 16) at 4 p.m. ASU put the brakes on a five-game losing skid in dramatic fashion on Sunday in Tucson, falling behind 22-6 but coming back to take a 13-point second-half lead and winning 59-54 to sweep Arizona for the first time since 1994-95. It also marked ASU's first win in Tucson since March 11 of that same year. ASU's five-game losing streak started after Stanford ended ASU's 10-game win streak on Jan. 19 (ASU's best streak since an 11-game run in 1980-81), a solid run that included wins over Xavier, Arizona, Oregon and at California. Stanford's current seven-game streak is tied for the 11th-best mark in the nation as it is fifth in the nation in scoring defense (56.9 points per game) and second in rebounding margin (+10.9). After starting last year 6-19, ASU is 17-10 in its past 27 games. With sixth-ranked UCLA on the home schedule on Feb. 28 and ASU already hosting then sixth-ranked Washington State on Jan. 26, the Sun Devils could play host to three top-10 schools in one season for just the second time in the school's 30-year Pac-10 history, as in 1997-98 ASU hosted No. 10 UCLA (Jan. 5), No. 3 Arizona (Feb. 14) and No. 8 Stanford (Feb. 26).

CLOSE GAME UPDATE: Last year, ASU was 4-17 in games decided by 10 points or less, but this year the Sun Devils are 6-1 with wins over LSU (87-84 in Maui Invitational), Montana State (66-62), Oregon (62-54), Arizona twice (64-59 in overtime and 59-54 in Tucson) and at California (99-90 in double overtime). Its only loss in that category was a 56-55 heartbreaker to sixth-ranked Washington State on Jan. 26. ASU lost its only overtime game last year but is 3-0 this year with the wins over LSU, Arizona and at California.

LAST GAME (AT ARIZONA): The Sun Devils broke a 12-game losing streak in Tucson Sunday (their last victory at McKale Center was a 103-98 double-overtime win on March 11, 1995, under Bill Frieder) with its come-from-behind 59-54 win over Arizona. UA led 22-6 early but ASU came back to trail 32-31 at the half and eventually took a 13-point lead before holding on for the win. ASU's bench outscored the Wildcat bench 16-0 as the Sun Devils won the points in the paint battle (20-6) behind a career-high 29 points from Pac-10 player of the week Jeff Pendergraph, who was 12-of-16 from the floor and added eight boards in 39 minutes. ASU has now held the Wildcats to just 61.25 points per game in four games under Herb Sendek, while in the 39 games prior (1987-88 season through 2005-06) Arizona had averaged 86.6 points. This year also marked the first time ASU had held Arizona below 60 points in both games of the regular season series since 1962-63 (73-54 and 58-53 ASU victories). ASU swept Arizona for just the sixth time in its 30 years of Pac-10 play, with ASU winning both games for four straight seasons from 1980-83, in 1994-95 and then this season. Pendergraph's 29 points is the most by a Sun Devil against the Wildcats since Mario Bennett notched 34 in a 103-98 double overtime win in Tucson on March 11, 1995, also ASU's last win in Tucson.

VS. RANKED TEAMS NOTES: Coach Sendek has 31 career wins against ranked teams (14 over top-10 and seven over top-five) as NC State beat 10 top-10 teams in his final six seasons. 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...against Stanford, ASU will be trying for a win over its highest ranked opponent since its 90-87 overtime win at fourth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998...ASU¹s last win over a top-10 team was Jan. 23, 2002, an 88-72 win over tenth-ranked Arizona in Tempe...ASU will try and get a win over a top-10 team in Tempe not named Arizona for the first time since a 68-64 victory over fourth-ranked Arizona on March 6, 1982. 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 as it now leads the overall series 37-26...Jeff Pendergraph has shot 28-of-52 (.538) from the floor and averaged 14.2 points in the five games against Stanford...last year in Tempe ASU fell to Stanford 71-60 on Dec. 28, 2006, as Jeff Pendergraph led the Sun Devils with 17 points and 11 boards in the Pac-10 opener for both teams as Stanford's biggest lead was 67-50 at the 2:16 mark.

REAL DEAL: The Pac-10's youngest player, freshman James Harden (turned 18 on Aug. 26), leads ASU in scoring (18.7 ppg./fifth in Pac-10), steals (1.82 per game/fourth in Pac-10) and minutes per game (32.9/11th in Pac-10). He is shooting .547 from the field (ninth in Pac-10), .765 from the free throw line and .441 from the three-point stripe (sixth 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 has 11 20-point games, including five straight from Dec. 29-Jan. 17 which is a first for an ASU freshman. He is averaging 19.5 points and 4.6 boards in Pac-10 games and was the only player in the league to lead his team in scoring in each of the first eight Pac-10 games. He was named as a top 30 midseason finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Awards (one of just six freshmen on the Wooden list and one of seven Pac-10 players noted). In Pac-10 play, his efficiency has been solid, as not only is he third in the league at 19.5 points per game.

MEMORY LANE: Herb Sendek is now 3-2 against Arizona, as in March of 1995 the 32-year old head coach led Miami (Ohio) to a 71-62 first-round NCAA Tournament upset of No. 15 Arizona in Dayton in the 59th game of his coaching career. Nearly 13 years and 405 games later, that former Miami head coach is ASU's head coach, Herb Sendek. That 12th-seeded Miami squad was 22-6 entering NCAA Tournament action, as the Redskins were one of four teams seeded 12th or lower to win a first-round game in 1995.

HARDEN DEFENSE NOTES: James Harden is trying to become just the fifth freshman to lead the Pac-10 in steals. The others are Jason Kidd of California (3.8 spg/1993), Baron Davis of UCLA (2.4 spg/1998) and USC's Errick Craven (2.1 spg/2002) and Gabe Pruitt (1.9 spg/2005). He currently ranks fourth in the league at 1.82 per game, .14 behind Kyle Weaver of Washington State. He also had 13 blocks on the year, tied for eighth on the ASU single-season freshmen list, just four behind Ron Riley (17 in 1992-93) for the seventh spot.

QUICK TEAM STUFF: ASU's roster has an interesting mix as it includes one senior, one junior, five freshmen and three sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game last year...ASU ranks second in the league in steals (6.95), third in turnover margin (+1.59) and second in turnovers per game (12.4/19th in nation)...Sun Devils also rank 29th in scoring defense (60.9 ppg.), which is fourth in the league...Derek Glasser leads the Pac-10 and ranks fifth in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 3.21 per game...ASU is third in the Pac-10 in free throw percentage at .744, which is 28th in the nation...Jeff Pendergraph is 13th in the nation in field goal percentage (.613) and leads the Pac-10. The school record is 63 percent held by Trent Edwards in 1988-89.

VS. TOP 10 TEAMS: The Jan. 31 UCLA game marked just the second time in school history the Sun Devils played back-to-back games against top 10 opponents during the regular season (ASU fell to sixth-ranked Washington State on Jan. 26). The only other time ASU played back-to-back games against top-10 teams in the regular season was in 2003-2004, when ASU fell to fourth-ranked Arizona 93-74 on Jan. 3 and then fell to fourth-ranked Stanford after the rankings came out a week later 63-62 on Jan. 8. Prior to that the last time ASU played back-to-back games against top-10 teams was when it won at top-ranked Oregon State 87-67 on March 7, 1981, and then fell to fifth-ranked Kansas, 88-71, on March 14 in the NCAA Tournament.

IN THE MIDDLE: Junior Jeff Pendergraph already has 32 blocks (he had 45 in his first two seasons) and is shooting .613 from the field (best in the Pac-10) and .811 from the free throw line (seventh in the league). He has three double-doubles this year and 16 in his 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 the past 26 seasons. He is shooting 75.7 percent from the free throw line in his career (215-of-284).

RANKINGS: For the first time since the final poll of 1994-95 (March 13) ASU grabbed a spot in the Associated Press rankings, as it was No. 22 (No. 25 in the 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 second year, two years prior to his rebuilding effort at NC State that resulted in five straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-06).

FRESHMEN: Freshmen accounted for 69 of 150 starts in Herb Sendek's rookie 30-game season. Through 22 games, the numbers read 130 out of 260 starts in his 52 games. That means in his two years, ASU's has had freshmen make 50 percent of the starts. Sophomores have made 56 starts (.215), juniors 39 (.150) and seniors 35 (.135). Against Xavier on Dec. 15, ASU started four freshmen for the first time in school history. ASU's freshmen have accounted for 48.3 percent of the points this year.

HARDEN FROM LONG RANGE: James Harden has shown the ability to hit the three-pointer as he is 26-of-59 (.441) on the year, currently the fifth-best mark in ASU history and best by a freshman. It is the best mark by an ASU player since junior Jeremy Veal shot 44.3 percent in 1996-97, and the 44.1 percent by Harden is currently the second-best mark by any Pac-10 freshman.

1. Matt Anderson, So., 1988-89 (41-of-80) .513
2. Terence Wheeler, So., 1987-88 (58-of-128) .453
3. Bobby Thompson, Sr., 1986-87 (31-of-69) .449
4. Jeremy Veal, Jr., 1996-97 (58-of-131) .443
5. James Harden, Fr., 2007-08 (26-59) .441

QUICK NOTES: ASU held Pac-10 scoring leader Oregon (79.2 ppg.) to 54 points on Jan. 3, UO's fewest points in a 61 game span prior to its 72-43 loss at Stanford on Feb. 7. Those are the only times Oregon has been held under 60 points this year. 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 34-of-42 (.810) free throws this year and is 69-of-87 (.793) in his 52-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 57 games). Glasser has 77 assists and just 19 turnovers in the past 16 games and has 43 assists and 11 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. He had a Pac-10 season-high 11 points at Arizona on Feb. 10...Christian Polk is 43-of-54 (.796) from the foul line in his 48-game career...Ty Abbott has 49 three-pointers, fourth-best by a freshman in ASU history, and is sixth in the Pac-10 at 2.23 three-pointers per game...ASU has reached 70-points nine times, last year it reached 70 points three times...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 in double overtime.

HITTING FREEBIES: ASU is shooting .744 from the free throw line, currently the fifth-best mark in ASU history. 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). One good note on Coach Herb Sendek and his 2003-04 NC State team is in the past nine seasons, NC State team's .799 final FT percentage is tied for the best in the NCAA with St. Joseph in 2005-06.

1. 1977-78 (13-14/6-8 in WAC) 75.6
2. 1954-55 (10-148-4 in Border) 75.4
3. 1997-98 (18-14/8-10 in Pac-10) 74.6
3. 1986-87 (11-17/6-12 in Pac-10) 74.6
5. 2007-08 (14-7/5-5 in Pac-10) 74.4
6. 2003-04 (10-17/4-14 in Pac-10) 73.5
7. 1956-57 (10-15/4-6 in Border) 73.0
8. 1999-2000 (19-13/10-8 in Pac-10) 72.9
9. 2005-06 (11-17/5-13 in Pac-10) 72.2

RECAPPING CAL (JAN. 17): 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 now 9-23 (.281) in Pac-10 road games the past five 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...ASU won 42-41 at Cal March 3 in the regular season finale last year, matching the best defensive performance in ASU's 535-game Pac-10 history (ASU beat UW 53-41 on Jan. 31, 1991) and the best in a Pac-10 road game as Derek Glasser hit the game-winning three-pointer with 13 seconds left...Cal's 41 points last year is the fewest by the Golden Bears since a 59-37 loss to Washington State on Jan. 14, 1988...ASU held Cal on March 3 to just 5-of-18 (.278) shooting and 16 points in the second the first matchup last year, (66-62 Dec. 30, 2006, overtime loss in Tempe) Christian Polk and Antwi Atuahene each had 14 points as ASU had three turnovers in the second half after posting 10 in the first half...ASU led 52-49 at the 3:05 mark but did not score in the next three minutes before a Christian Polk three-pointer tied the game with three seconds left.

PLAYER OF WEEK: Jeff Pendergraph earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors following his Feb. 10 outing at Arizona when he posted 29 points on 12-of-16 shooting and eight boards in 39 minutes in ASU's 59-54 win. Freshmen Ty Abbott and James Harden became the fourth and fifth ASU freshmen to win Pac-10 Player of the Week honors, as Abbott took home the Dec. 17 honor after his 19-point performance in the 77-55 win over Xavier on Dec. 15 which included five three pointers and the largest win over a ranked team in school history. Harden notched the honor after leading ASU to just its third 2-0 start 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 the honor are Ike Diogu (Feb. 16, 2003), Mario Bennett (Feb. 24, 1992) and Chris Sandle (Dec. 10, 1984). Seventeen ASU players have been named Pac-10 Player of the Week on 26 occasions, but this year marks the first time in the 25-year history of the award three separate Sun Devils have taken home the honor.

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.

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, 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.

OLDER QUICK NOTES: 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.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: 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).

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 Claudino (2005-2007/B.I.S) and Shawn 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.

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 277-187 (.597) 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 full-time 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 17-10 in its past 27 games.

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 61 starts this year.

HISTORY NOTE: When ASU beat Cal 99-90 in double overtime on Jan.17, James Harden (27), Jeff Pendergraph (26) and Ty Abbott (25) each scored 25 points, the first time three Sun Devils each scored 25 points since a 115-92 win in Tempe over Portland State on Jan. 4, 1977. 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 52 games under Herb Sendek, ASU is giving up just 61.4 points per game.