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Men's hoops plays Arizona Pac-10 Tournament


March 10, 2009

"RIVALRY" GAMES AT PAC-10 TOURNAMENT
1990 Quarterfinals: Stanford 77, California 61
2002 Quarterfinals: Arizona 73, Arizona State 56
2007 Quarterfinals: Washington State 74, Washington 64
2008 Semifinals: UCLA 57, USC 54

Bring in the HARDENware...click here to read FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman five-man first-team All-America squad that includes the Sun Devil sophomore.

 

ASU TRIES FOR THREE VS. CATS: The No. 23 (AP and ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 22-8/11-7 this season under 305-game winner Herb Sendek, opens the Pac-10 Tournament in Staples Center Thursday at noon against Arizona. Fox Sports Net has the call, while 620 KTAR AM has the radio locally. ASU finished at 11-7 in the Pac-10 and tied for third, its best Pac-10 finish since the 1994-95 Sweet Sixteen team finished third under Bill Frieder, and will try and beat Arizona for the fifth straight time. The Sun Devils have clinched 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. That note becomes more noteworthy when you consider this...the last time ASU had back-to-back WINNING seasons was when the 1993-94 team went 15-13 and the 1994-95 team went 24-9. Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden, a midseason finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Awards and one of the 15 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, enters this week 21st in the nation in scoring at 20.8 points per game, while Jeff Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage at 66.5 percent and was even better in Pac-10 play (67.3 percent). Sophomore swingman Rihards Kuksiks also enters the nation rankings conversation as he is sixth per official NCAA standards at 45.6 in three-point percentage. After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 43-21 (.672) since and giving up just 61.1 points per game in his 94 games and are second in Pac-10 in points allowed this year at 59.8 per game, best by a Sun Devil team since 1948-49 (47.6) and 21st in the nation.


HEAVIEST BACKPACK IN COLLEGE HOOPS: Since stepping onto campus last fall, all James Harden has done for Arizona State basketball is...help lead it to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since Jimmy Carter gave up his seat to Ronald Reagan (Reagan took office on Jan. 20, 1981) as ASU was 24-4 in 1980-81 and 22-7 in 1979-80)...go 4-0 against Arizona (ASU's best effort against the Wildcats since ASU won nine straight from 1979-83)...sweep UCLA this year for just the third time in school history...lead ASU to its largest win over a ranked opponent in school history with 22-point win over #17 Xavier on Dec. 17, 2007...lead ASU to its first top-10 road win since 1998 when it won at #9 UCLA earlier this year...lead ASU to four straight Pac-10 road wins for the first time since 1980-81.

SO SOLID: Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December in just three and a half years now has a school-record 115 starts (topping current NBA world champion Eddie House's 114) and is shooting .761 from the free throw line in his career (351-of-461) and 98-of-127 (.772) on the year...has 1,511 points in 121 career games (12.5 points per game) and 910 career rebounds (7.5 per game)...has 29 career double-doubles (11 this year)...also has a chance to set ASU record for career games, as Eddie House played in 124 and Jeff has played in 121...averaging 17.0 points, 10.8 boards and 40.3 minutes in his past six games...averaging 16.5 points and 10.3 boards in his past 10 games while shooting 67.4 percent from the floor (60-of-89) and 76.3 percent (45-of-59) from the free throw line.

TEAM RANKINGS: ASU ranks 21st in nation and second in Pac-10 in scoring defense (59.8 ppg.). WSU leads the nation at 55.2...ASU is fourth in Pac-10 and 27th in nation in field goal percentage at 47.8 percent...ASU leads the Pac-10 and is 30th in the nation in three-point field goals made per game (8.1)...ASU leads the Pac-10 in three-point defense (.317)...ASU is third in the Pac-10 and 27th in the nation in free throw percentage (.741)...ASU is second in the Pac-10 in assists per game (15.7)...ASU leads the Pac-10 and is 13th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32)...ASU is second in the Pac-10 and 22nd in nation at 11.8 turnovers per game.

VS. UA: In the most recent meeting, ASU came out blazing, making 10-of-16 (.625) three-pointers in the first half and led by 17 in the second half before Arizona rallied to take the lead on Feb. 22. But Rihards Kuksiks hit two mammoth threes in the final minutes to lift ASU to a 70-68 win...ASU has now won four straight against Arizona for the first time since it won nine straight against the Wildcats from 1979-83...ASU has held the Wildcats to just 60.0 points per game in six games under Herb Sendek, while in the 39 games prior (1987-88 season through 2005-06) Arizona had averaged 86.6 points...in ASU's past four games against Arizona (all wins), Jeff Pendergraph is 24-of-38 (.632) from the floor, 22-of-26 (.846) from the foul line and is averaging 17.5 points and 10.0 rebounds...ASU swept the regular season series against Arizona for just the seventh time in its 30 years of Pac-10 play, with ASU winning both games for four straight seasons from 1979-83, in 1994-95 and then last season...ASU is 11-0 against Arizona when it is ranked, which it will be this week as the Sun Devils are No. 23 in both polls...in the past four games against UA, ASU has held the Wildcats to 24-of-78 (.307) from the three-point stripe and just 75-of-203 (.369) from the field.

IT NEVER HAPPENS, BUT IT DID: Feb. 26-28 marked just the second time in ASU's 31-years of Pac-10 play it played back-to-back overtime games in the same Pac-10 weekend (and first time it occurred on a road trip)...ASU did play back-to-back overtime games last year when it beat Arizona 59-54 on Jan. 9 and then won at California 99-90 on Jan. 17, but those games were eight days apart...the only other time ASU had played overtime in both games of a Pac-10 twinbill was on Feb. 12-14, 2004, when it beat UCLA 74-62 and then lost to USC 93-84 in Tempe...it marked the first time in ASU history ASU had lost back-to-back overtime games...ASU entered that weekend winners of its past six overtime games and 5-0 in games decided by six points or less...it marked just the third time in the past 23 seasons ASU played back-to-back overtime games.

PAST TWO SEASONS: ASU is 20-16 (.556) in the past two seasons in Pac-10 play, tied for the third-best mark in the league behind UCLA (29-7/.806) and Washington (21-15/.583). The rest of the Pac-10 in the past two years: USC 20-16 (.556), Washington State 19-17 (.528), Stanford 19-17 (.528), Arizona 17-19 (.472), Cal 17-19 (.472), Oregon 11-25 (.306) and Oregon State 7-29 (.194).

STATS LLC DOES IT AGAIN: The folks at STATS LLC worked overtime on this one. James Harden is arguably one of the nationĀ¹s best all-around players, averaging 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. Since the 1996-97 season, only five other players have averaged at least 20 points, five boards and four dimes per game and shot over 50 percent from the field.

DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED: ASU had an eight-game win-streak from Nov. 30-Jan. 2, its third-longest in the past 28 seasons. Last year ASU won 10 straight, while the 2004-05 team won nine straight. It also won five straight in Pac-10 play Feb. 5-22, its best Pac-10 streak since it won five straight in 1994-95.

RECENT HAPPENINGS: Coach Sendek, the second-youngest active coach with 300 Division I wins, celebrated his 46th birthday on Feb. 22 as ASU completed an Arizona sweep for the second straight year with a 70-68 win, ASU's first four-game win streak over the Wildcats since a nine-game streak from 1979-83...ASU ended one of the most impressive streaks in Pac-10 history on Feb. 12, as UCLA had won 32 straight front-end games of Pac-10 weekends (in other words, the Thursday game), a streak dating to a Jan. 20, 2005 home loss to Stanford. ASU shot 60 percent (24-of-40) from the floor, 11-of-18 (.611) from the three-point stripe and 15-of-18 (.833) in its 74-67 win over the No. 11 Bruins...on Feb. 15, ASU beat USC 65-63 and committed just four turnovers, its fewest since it had just four vs. Oregon State on March 9, 1991..ASU swept the Oregon trip Feb. 5-7, 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...ASU held Oregon State to 13 first-half points Feb. 7, ASU's best first-half defensive effort since it led Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995...ASU is averaging 10.8 turnovers in its past 13 contests...in the home sweep of UCLA and USC Feb. 12-15, Derek Glasser averaged 16.5 points, including a career-high 18 points vs. USC...James Harden has played 351 out of a possible 370 minutes in the past nine games, including three 40-minute games...Jamelle McMillan was 14-of-27 (.480) from the three-point stripe in his past seven games before injuring himself against Stanford and missing the California game.

GOING BACK TO CALI: ASU will play tenth game this year in California on Thursday against Arizona. It won at San Diego State (Nov. 18), at Stanford (Jan. 2) and at UCLA (Jan. 17), lost at Cal (Jan. 4) and at USC (Jan. 15) and went 2-1 (wins vs. Charlotte and UTEP and loss to Baylor) in the 76 Classic in Anaheim Nov. 27-30.

ROAD NOTES: With its Oregon road sweep Feb. 5-7, ASU won four straight Pac-10 road games for the first time since the 1980-81 team won five straight and finished 6-4 on the road overall. That 1980-81 team had three starters become NBA first round draft picks in Alton Lister (21st overall pick in 1981), Fat Lever (11th pick in 1982) and Byron Scott (fourth pick in 1983). ASU has top-60 RPI road wins over UCLA (29), San Diego State (43) and Arizona (52) and has top 100 out-of-league wins over #21 BYU (10-0 at the time) and #78 UTEP at neutral sites and vs. #68 Nebraska (6-0 at time of game) in Tempe. ASU won five Pac-10 road games for just the fifth time in its 31-year history. It went 8-1 in 1980-81, 7-2 in 1979-80 and 5-4 in 1994-94 and 1982-83.

NEXT MAN UP: ASU was without a a starter in each of its wins in Oregon on Feb. 5-7. Rihards Kuksiks missed the Feb. 5 Oregon game with a bad virus that kept him on the shelf all week, as ASU had to find his 10.4 points per game, his 30.7 minutes per game and 46.5 three-point shooting from someone else. James Harden shouldered the load with 36 points, including five three-pointers in 40 minutes. At Oregon State on Feb. 7, 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 Beaver 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.

BIG WIN: ASU's win at No. 9 UCLA on Jan. 17 was its first top-10 road win since it beat fourth-ranked Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998, and just the second in the past 24 seasons. ASU won at Pauley Pavilion for just the sixth time in 32 times, and just the third time in the past 22 seasons. Herb Sendek now has 34 wins against ranked teams in his career and five at ASU. In the past five years he has 15 wins against ranked teams and a dozen top-10 wins in his past nine seasons.

IF THIS WAS FOOTBALL, HE WOULD RETURN PUNTS AS WELL: James Harden currently leads the Pac-10 in scoring (20.8) and is second in steals (1.7). Only four players have notched the offense/defense duo in the 30-year history of the league (no one in the past nine years), the last being Jason Terry of Arizona in 1998-99 with 21.9 points per game and 2.8 steals per game. Others are Terrell Brandon of Oregon in 1990-91 (26.6/2.3), Gary Payton of Oregon State in 1989-90 (25.7/3.4) and Don Collins of WSU in 1978-79 (23.1/2.7).

FIRST TIME IN 28: ASU did something in 19 days that no other Pac-10 team has done in 28 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). The only time ASU won at all three was in 1979-80. ASU was a combined 22-69 (.242) in games at Maples, Pauley and McKale entering play this year, but won all three games in a span of 19 days with a 90-60 win at Stanford, a 61-58 overtime win at #9 UCLA and a 53-47 grinder at Arizona.

AUTOMATIC: Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 11.5 points, including 70-of-149 (.469) from the three-point stripe, in his past 23 games. He is averaging 10.1 points and has 24 double-figure scoring games in his past 41 contests dating to last year after scoring 42 points in his first 22 games. He has posted double digits in 15 of his past 21 games.

SOLID: Derek Glasser, who suffered a neck strain against Oregon and sat the OSU Feb. 7 road win, 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 vs. No. 11 UCLA on Feb. 12. He is 171-of-206 (.830) from the free throw line and has played 18 turnover free games in his 93-game career. In Pac-10 games he finished 26-of-61 (.426) from the three-point stripe and 57-of-65 (.877) at the free throw line (fourth in the league). In his first six games he was 2-of-13 (.154) from three-point stripe but is 34-of-75 (.453) in his past 23 games. He had a career-high 11 assists vs. Oregon on Jan. 10 and against Cal on March 7 and has 141 assists and just 65 turnovers on the year (2.20-to-1 ratio, tied for first in the league). He has 372 career assists (4.0 per game), on pace to break the ASU record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87.

300: Even after coaching in 506 games at three schools, six NCAA tournaments, and having eight former assistants currently serving as head coaches at the Division-I level, Herb Sendek is still the third-youngest coach in the Pac-10 even with two new hires. Oregon State's Craig Robinson is a little older than Coach Sendek (about 10 months) while Stanford's Johnny Dawkins is about seven months younger. Coach Sendek is the second-youngest active coach with 300 Division I wins, only Florida's Billy Donovan is younger, as he is 43 years old (born May 30, 1965).

ODDS AND ENDS: ASU shot 16-of-18 (.889) from the field in the second half against Oregon State on Jan. 8...ASU shot 65.3 percent 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 is 27-1 when it shoots 50 percent under Herb Sendek and has won 25 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). It was 12-0 last year and is 13-0 this year when it shoots 50 percent.

NO TO's: ASU had eight turnovers in the overtime win at UCLA on Jan. 17, the fewest turnovers on the road since Feb. 12, 2005, when it also had eight at USC. Derek Glasser had zero turnovers in 42 minutes. ASU followed that up with nine turnovers at Arizona on Jan. 21, and then had just six turnovers vs. Washington State on Jan. 29. But its top performance was its four turnovers vs. USC on Feb. 15, fewest in a game since ASU had just four against Oregon State on March 9, 1991.

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 (.741). 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.