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Men's hoops off to Los Angeles

January 12, 2009

SUN DEVILS FACE TROJANS AND BRUINS: The No. 16/15 (Associated Press/ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 14-2/3-1 this season under third-year head coach Herb Sendek, travels back to southern California for the third time this year to face the USC Trojans on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. PT and then plays ninth-ranked UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 12:45 p.m. on CBS, with Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg on the call. ASU has won 10 of its past 11, including a pair of wins over 10-0 teams (vs. BYU and at Stanford). Three Sun Devils are in double digits: James Harden (23.1, which leads the Pac-10 and is tenth nationally), Jeff PendergraphRihards Kuksiks (10.9 and officially tops in the NCAA rankings at 52.9 three-point percentage) with Ty Abbott (9.3) close behind, as Kuksiks is 18-of-27 (.667) from the three-point stripe in the past six games. ASU, ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense at 58.3 points per game, started 12-1 for first time in 34 seasons (1974-75 Sun Devil squad started 15-1), is second in the nation in field goal shooting (5.19) and leads the Pac-10 and is 26th in the nation in free throw shooting at 73.9 percent (just short of school-record pace), but no player is in the national top 85 (Jeff Pendergraph is 89th at 83.5 percent). ASU's starting five is shooting 77.4 percent from the free throw line (205-of-265). After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 35-15 (.700). (13.6 and is fourth nationally in field goal percentage at .664),

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 at that pace this year. 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.

1. 1977-78 (13-14/6-8 in WAC) 75.6
2. 1954-55 (10-14/8-4 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. 2008-09 (14-2/3-1 in Pac-10) (238-322) 73.9
5. 2007-08 (21-13/9-9 in Pac-10) 73.9

SHOOTING IT: ASU is averaging 9.4 three-pointers made in the past 11 games (103-of-244/.422). It leads the Pac-10 in three-pointers made per game at 8.6 (19th in the nation) and is 13th in three-point shooting (.400), one of just six schools to be in the top 20 in both long-range bomb categories (Oklahoma State, Iowa, Creighton, Marist and Notre Dame)...ASU had five players in double digits in back-to-back games (Dec. 23 vs. Idaho State and Dec. 29 vs. Central Connecticut State) for first time since February of 2004 and also had five against Oregon on Jan. 10...ASU shot 16-of-18 (.889) from the field in the second half against Oregon State...ASU shot 65.3 percent from the field in its Dec. 29 win over Central Connecticut State, including 14-of-14 from inside the three-point arc in the first half...ASU hit a school-record 17 three-pointers in its 90-55 Dec. 23 win over Idaho State...ASU also leads the Pac-10 and is 17th in the nation at 17.6 assists per game.

SUN DEVIL DATA: James Harden has four 30-point games on the year, the most by a Sun Devil since Ike Diogu had six in 2004-2005. ASU is now 21-5 when Harden scores at least 20 (7-2 this year). After starting the season 2-of-14 (.143) from the three-point stripe in the first four games, he is 28-of-58 (.483) in the past 12 games...ASU is 10-6 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 3-0 this year as it trailed at San Diego State and vs. IUPUI and BYU...ASU has now won five straight overtime games under Herb Sendek after its 59-58 overtime win over IUPUI on Dec. 14. Last year ASU was 4-0 in overtime, beating LSU in Maui 87-84 (Nov. 21), topping Arizona at home 64-59 (Jan. 9), winning at Cal in double overtime 99-90 (Jan. 17) and beating seventh-ranked Stanford 72-68 in Tempe (Feb. 14)...after losing its first 10 away from home (neutral or road games) in the Herb Sendek era, ASU is 13-11 since, and is 6-6 in Pac-10 road games after losing its first the Jan. 8 69-38 victory over Oregon State, ASU held the Beavers to 15 first-half points, ASU's best first-half defensive effort since it led Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995...the Sun Devils are giving up 61.2 points per game in Coach Sendek's 80 games...Ty Abbott has three eight-rebound games this year, he grabbed eight rebounds in two games all of last year...Derek Glasser is 123-of-151 (.815) from the free throw line in his career.

NOT TAKING IT FOR FOR GRANTED: ASU had an eight-game win-streak from Nov. 30-Jan. 2, its third-longest in the past 28 seasons. Last year's team won 10 straight and the 2004-05 team won nine straight.

FIVE IN DOUBLES: The Dec. 23 Idaho State and Dec. 29 Central Connecticut State games marked the first time ASU posted five players in double-digits in back-to-back games since the 2000-2001 season. ASU won at Oregon State 73-58 on Feb. 1, 2001, with Awvee Storey (17), Donnell Knight (13), Alton Mason (12), Tommy Smith (10) and Chad Prewitt (10) leading the way. On Sunday, Feb. 4 at Oregon, Storey led six players in double digits with 23 in a 99-72 win. Mason (17), Smith (15), Prewitt (15), Knight (10) and Redhage (10). ASU also placed five in double digits in the 76-58 Oregon win on Jan. 10.

STEADY JEFF: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December in just three and a half years and has 101 career starts, is shooting .767 from the free throw line in his career (300-of-391) and is 47-of-57 (.825) on the year. He has 1,296 points in 107 career games (12.1 points per game) and 769 career rebounds (7.2 per game). He has 22 career double-doubles (four this year). Pendergraph is fourth in the nation shooting at 66.4 percent. That means he has taken 128 field goals (made 85) and 57 free throws (made 47) and has missed just 53 shots.

SHOOT IT KUKSIKS: In ASU's past 10 games, sophomore Rihards Kuksiks, who ranks first in the nation in three-point percentage at 52.9, is averaging 12.9 points and 4.8 boards, including 33-of-58 (.569) from the three-point stripe. He has 279 points and 17 double-figure scoring games in his past 28 contests (9.9 ppg.) dating to last year after scoring 42 points in the first 22 games last season. The sophomore had the best game of his career on Dec. 14 in ASU's one-point overtime win over IUPUI. He matched his career high with 18 points (set previous game on Dec. 8 against Nebraska after setting then-career high with 16 vs. Jackson State on Dec. 4, so yes, that was three straight career-highs), made a career-high six three pointers, grabbed a career-best nine boards (after a then career-high six boards against Nebraska), matched a career-high with four assists and had a career-high three steals. He has posted double digits in eight of his past nine games.

ONE-POINT GAMES: The Dec. 20 BYU and Dec. 14 IUPUI contests marked for the first back-to-back one-point games for ASU since 2005-2006, as ASU lost to #7 UCLA 61-60 on Jan. 7 just two days after losing 66-65 to USC. Prior to that, the last back-to-back one-point games were an 87-86 loss at #6 UCLA on Jan. 10, 1983, which was followed by a 75-74 loss at Washington State on Jan. 13, 1983. The BYU and IUPUI tilts marked the first-time in ASU history the Sun Devils posted back-to-back one-point wins. ASU is now 3-2 under Herb Sendek in one-point games.

BIG ROAD WIN: ASU's 30-point win (90-60) at Stanford on Jan. 2 is the third-largest Pac-10 road win in ASU's 31 Pac-10 seasons (272 road games) and largest since a 33-point win at Washington State (87-54) on Feb. 6, 2003.

36--ASU 91, Cal 55 (Feb. 3, 1979)
33--ASU 87, Washington State 54 (Feb. 6, 2003)
30--ASU 90, Stanford 60 (Jan. 2, 2009)
28--ASU 90, Washington 62 (Jan. 10, 1981)
27-ASU 99, Oregon 72 (Feb. 4, 2001)

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 50 career games, Harden has led ASU in scoring 38 times, rebounding 17 times and led it in assists in 21 games has 26 career 20-point games and 10 this year (ASU is 21-5/8-2)...has four 30 +point games this year (33 vs. Pepperdine, 32 vs. Baylor, 40 vs. UTEP, 30 vs. BYU) 11-of-11 from the foul line vs. Charlotte and is 270-of-357 (.756) in his career...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 7-4 in Pac-10 home games with Harden, in the prevous four years, it was 9-27.

AT THE POINT: Derek Glasser is 123-of-151 (.815) from the free throw line and has played 15 turnover free games in his 80-game career. He had a career-high 11 assists vs. Oregon on Jan. 10 and has 85 assists and just 35 turnovers on the year (2.42-to-1 ratio). He also has 316 career assists (3.95 per game), on pace to break the ASU career record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87. Glasser is tenth on the ASU career list. In the four conference games he is 10-of-16 (.625) from the floor, 5-of-7 (.714) from the three-point stripe and 9-of-10 (.900) at the free throw line. His 11 assists vs. Oregon on Saturday was the most by a Sun Devil since Jason Braxton had 12 at USC on Jan. 17, 2004, a span of the past 153 games.

WAY TOO EARLY TO TALK ABOUT THIS, BUT SO WHAT: James Harden enters play this week tenth in the nation in scoring (23.1 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). Diogu and House both led the Pac-10 in scoring those years, as did Sun Devil Jeremy Veal (20.8 in 1997-98) and Byron Scott (21.6 in 1982-83).

VS. USC: ASU and USC met three times last year, with the Trojans winning two including a 59-55 win on March 13 in the Pac-10 Tournament...James Harden was 21-of-30 (.700) from the floor, 6-of-11 (.545) from the three-point stripe and 18-of-20 (.900) from the free throw line against the Trojans last year and averaged 22 the game at the Galen Center on Feb. 2, ASU took a 36-32 lead on five points by James Harden, but the freshman, who had zero fouls at the half, picked up four in a span of 2:20 and USC went on an 11-0 run over a 4:24 stretch with him sitting...the game had seven ties and six lead changes in the first half...USC shot 60 percent from the field in the second half...Harden had 24 points and Pendergraph had 21 and nine boards in the 80-66 win in Tempe on March 1 as ASU made 34-of-39 (.871) free throws...ASU led 33-32 but went on a 29-8 run as it made 12 straight free throws in the run...USC leads the series 46-31 and the teams have split the past four meetings...ASU is 2-10 in its past 12 trips to USC and is 0-2 at the Galen Center.

VS. UCLA: ASU shot just 39.6 percent in its two losses to UCLA last year, including just 13-of-37 (.351) from the three-point stripe...James Harden was the only Sun Devil to average in double digits against UCLA last year (10.0 points per game)...UCLA outrebounded ASU by 30 in the two games (70-40)...UCLA leads the series 56-14...ASU's last win in Pauley was on Jan. 16, 2003, a 75-64 win.

RALLY CAPS: ASU has fallen behind three times this year but rallied to win. On Dec. 20 against previously undefeated BYU 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...ASU came back from double-digit deficits in two big wins in 2007-08, as it put the brakes on a five-game losing skid in dramatic fashion on Feb. 10 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 (its first win in Tucson since March 11, 1995)...on Feb. 14 against seventh-ranked Stanford, ASU was down 14 in the second half and seven with 1:49 left before winning 72-68 in overtime.

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 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 297-195 (.605) 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).

AT HOME: ASU is 23-5 (.821) at home in the past two seasons (8-0 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.

VS. OSU: ASU set a school mark for fewest points allowed in Pac-10 game (543 games) in its 69-38 win over Oregon State on Jan. 8...James Harden had 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting and ASU made 16-of-18 (.889) from the floor in the second half and had just nine turnovers while limiting Oregon State to just 6-of-21 (.286) from the floor in the first half...ASU is shooting 75-of-130 (.577) in its past three games against the Beavers and has held OSU to 57-of-166 (.343)...OSU leads the series 38-34...ASU swept the regular season series from the Beavers in 2007-08 for the eighth time since joining the Pac-10.

VS. OREGON: ASU is now 36-31 against the Ducks after its 76-58 win on Jan. 10...ASU jumped out to a 41-25 halftime lead and led by as many as 26 in the second half...James Harden had 19 points and is averaging 20.3 points against the Ducks...ASU held the Ducks to 7-of-24 (.292) from the field in the first half...ASU has held the Ducks to 29-of-97 (.299) from the three-point stripe and to 58.8 points per game in the past five outings.

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.

GOING BACK TO CALI: ASU will play at least nine games this year in California. It won at San Diego State (Nov. 18) and at Stanford (Jan. 2), lost at Cal (Jan. 4) and went 2-1 (wins vs. Charlotte and UTEP and loss to Baylor) in the 76 Classic in Anaheim Nov. 27-30. It also plays at UCLA and USC and will play at least one tilt in the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.

YOU CAN CALL IT A COMEBACK: ASU¹s 16-point comeback on Dec. 14 vs. IUPUI is tied for the second-largest halftime comeback in the past 20 seasons of Sun Devil hoops. ASU trailed Stanford by 17 in Palo Alto on Feb. 12, 1994 (46-29) but came back to win 71-69. ASU also came back from a 16-point deficit on March 15, 2000, as it trailed New Mexico State 45-29 in Tempe in the NIT before posting an 83-77 victory. HALFTIME COMEBACK DEFICITS (1989-1990 TO PRESENT/PAST 20 SEASONS) (17)-@Stanford 46, ASU 29 (Feb. 12, 1994/ASU 71, Stanford 69) (16)-IUPUI 34, ASU 18 (@Phoenix) (Dec. 14, 2008/ASU 59, IUPUI 58, OT) (16)-New Mexico St. 45, ASU 29 (March 15, 2000/ASU 83, NMSU 77, NIT) (16)-Georgia 39, ASU 23 (Dec. 29, 1989/ASU 62, Georgia 61) (16)-@Texas A&M 36, ASU 26 (Dec. 19, 1998/ASU 96, Texas A&M 91, 3OT) (10)-@USC 41, ASU 31 (Jan. 20, 1994/ASU 87, USC 62)

PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: James Harden has earned the Pac-10 Player of the Week honor on three occasions in his two seasons. His first honor came on Jan. 7, 2008, and then he earned the honor in back-to-back weeks this season on Nov. 24 and Dec. 1. Eddie House has earned the award the most as a Sun Devil, notching the honor five times. Ike Diogu earned it four times while Mario Bennett earned it three times. Gary Payton holds the Pac-10 record with nine Player of the Week honors.

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 wins in his past dozen seasons. He notched his first at ASU on Feb. 18, 2007, as ASU topped No. 22 USC 68-58 and won his first attempt in the 2007-08 season with a 77-55 over No. 17 Xavier on Dec. 15 (largest win over a ranked 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. 4 Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998, and earned its first win over a top-10 team since Jan. 23, 2002 (88-72 win over No. 10 Arizona in Tempe) also marked ASU's first win over a top-10 team in Tempe not named Arizona since a 68-60 win over fourth-ranked Oregon State on March 6, 1982.

MANY WINS, MANY PLACES: Herb Sendek has covered the map in wins. In his career, Coach Sendek has won 294 games in 24 states, plus two wins in Puerto Rico and one in Washington D.C. North Carolina (153), Ohio (51) and Arizona (32) lead the way as he has been head coach in each state, and he also has posted wins in Florida, (seven), California (seven), Michigan (six), South Carolina and Virginia (five each), Georgia and Indiana (four each), Massachusetts (three), Hawaii, Texas and Maryland (two each). One-win states are Alabama, Utah, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Nevada, Kentucky, Illinois, Washington and Oregon.