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Men's hoops plays USC Thursday at noon in Staples Center

March 11, 2008

SUN DEVIL DATA: The fifth-seeded Arizona State's men's hoops team, 19-11 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 under second-year coach Herb Sendek, takes on the fourth-seeded USC Trojans on Thursday, March 13, at noon in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. The Sun Devils (picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 preseason media poll) notched nine Pac-10 wins for just the third time in the past 13 seasons (11-7 in 2002-03 and 10-8 in 1999-2000) and went 5-4 in the second half of the Pac-10 with road wins at Arizona, Washington and Oregon State and home wins vs. the NCAA-bound duo of Stanford and USC. USC has won five of six, with its only loss to ASU (March 1) in that time. The home wins over Stanford and USC are impressive as only UCLA and ASU beat both of those teams this season, and ASU also notched wins over RPI top-60 teams Xavier (9), Stanford (16), Arizona (twice, 29), USC (31) and Oregon (53) with freshmen making a league-leading 84 starts, playing more than 45 percent of the minutes and scoring more than 50 percent of the points. Freshmen James Harden earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors while junior Jeff Pendergraph earned third-team accolades.

YOU READ THIS BEFORE: The Sun Devils have five wins over teams in the top 50 of the RPI. ASU (5-6 vs. top 50) beat #9 Xavier, #16 Stanford, has two wins over current #29 Arizona and beat No. #31 USC on March 1. Other Pac-10 records vs. the top-50 include UCLA (9-2), Arizona (5-7), Washington State (4-6), USC (4-7), Oregon (4-8), California (2-9) and Washington (2-11). ASU has a sixth top-50 win close by, as it topped No. 53 Oregon as well.

STUFF TO KNOW: ASU was 5-4 at home in Pac-10 games after going 9-27 in Tempe the previous four seasons...ASU is 21-14 in its past 35 games after starting last year 6-19...ASU has won its share of close games (7-3 in games decided by 10 points or less) and makes its free throws (.740 percentage is currently fifth-best in school history and second best in past 21 seasons)...ASU is led in scoring by the most famous Sun Devil southpaw since Phil Mickelson, James Harden, who has 15 20-point games on the year, topping Ike Diogu's ASU freshmen record of 12 set in 2002-03. The 18-year old Harden (born this past August) is the youngest player in the Pac-10 as his 17.7 points per game is second-best in ASU freshman history.

TURNAROUND INFO: ASU became just the fifth team in 30 years of Pac-10 play to go from a last-place finish (2-16 last year) to a .500 record in conference play the next year. Washington State did it last year as Tony Bennett earned National Coach of the Year.

Washington State from 3-15 in 1980-81 to 10-8 in 1981-82
California from 5-13 in 1987-88 to 10-8 in 1988-89
Stanford from 2-16 in 1992-93 to 10-8 in 1993-94
Washington State from 4-14 in 2005-06 to 13-5 (NCAAs) in 2006-07
Arizona State from 2-16 in 2006-07 to 9-9 in 2007-08

TURNAROUND AGAIN: ASU¹s 10-game turnaround in overall wins from last year (ASU was 8-22 overall in 2006-07) is currently the best by any major conference team and tied for third overall. UNC-Wilmington (7-22 to 20-13) and Wagner (11-19 to 23-8) lead the way.

ANOTHER FRESHMEN: Freshman Rihards Kuksiks has been seeing quality minutes as he is averaging 26.1 minutes and 9.8 points in the past eight games and has made 18 three pointers. He 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 78 points in his past eight games after scoring 42 in the first 22 games. In the second half of the Pac-10 season (past nine games), four Sun Devil freshmen have played 52 percent of the minutes, scored 54 percent of the points and made 53 three-pointers.

DON'T COUNT THEM OUT: The Sun Devils came back from double-digit deficits in two big wins, 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 (and notch first win in Tucson since March 11, 1995). On Feb. 14 against seventh-ranked Stanford, ASU was down by 14 in the second half and by seven with 1:49 left before a rally put the game into overtime as ASU won 72-68. On Feb. 16 against Cal, ASU made seven three-pointers in the final 1:11 to chop an 11-point deficit to three before falling 76-73.

ANOTHER SOLID NOTE: ASU is the only Pac-10 team to have a win over a RPI top-10 team outside the loop with its 77-55 victory over #9 Xavier. ASU's win over Xavier is especially impressive when you consider that Xavier has gone 18-3 since losing at ASU 77-55 on Dec. 15.

TEAM STUFF: ASU's scholarship roster has an interesting mix as it includes one senior, one junior, five freshmen, sophomore transfer and three sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game last year...ASU ranks second in the Pac-10 in steals (6.97) and is fourth in turnover margin (+0.83)...ASU is third in field goal percentage defense (.412)...Sun Devils give up 62.4 ppg., which is fourth in the league and 47th in the nation...Derek Glasser is second in the Pac-10 and 25th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 2.38...ASU is tied for third in the Pac-10 in free throw percentage at .740 which is 32nd in the nation...Jeff Pendergraph is second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.594). The ASU record is .630 held by Trent Edwards in 1988-89.

A LOT OF MINUTES: James Harden and Ty Abbott both topped the pace set by Byron Scott in 1979-80 for Sun Devil freshmen minutes played in the 18 Pac-10 games. Harden averaged 35.9 minutes per game in the 18 league games while Abbott finished at 34.8. Derek Glasser averaged 32.2 minutes last year in Pac-10 play.

1. 35.9, James Harden 2007-08
2. 34.8, Ty Abbott, 2007-08
3. 34.2, Byron Scott 1979-80
4. 33.3, Ike Diogu 2002-03
5. 32.2, Derek Glasser, 2006-07

CLOSE GAME UPDATE: Last year, ASU was 4-17 in games decided by 10 points or less, but this year the Sun Devils are 7-3 with wins over LSU (87-84 in Maui), Montana State (66-62), Oregon (62-54), Arizona twice (64-59 in OT and 59-54 in Tucson), at California (99-90 in double OT) and vs. seventh-ranked Stanford (72-68 in OT). ASU lost its only overtime game last year but is 4-0 this year with the wins over LSU, Arizona, at Cal and vs. #7 Stanford. The four overtime wins is the most by an ASU team since 1985-86 as the Sun Devils were 4-2, while the school mark is 5-0 by the 1980-81 team. Also, ASU was 3-12 in two-possession games last year (six points or less or OT) but is 6-3 this year.

Arizona State (4-0 in 2007-08)
California (4-0 in 2006-07)
USC (4-1 in 2003-04)
Arizona State (4-2 in 1985-86)
Arizona State (5-0 in 1980-81)

HARDEN ON DEFENSE/OFFENSE: James Harden is trying to become just the fifth freshman to lead the Pac-10 in steals. The others are Jason Kidd of Cal (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 leads the league at 2.03 per game, .11 ahead of UCLA junior Darren Collison. He also had 17 blocks, seventh on the ASU freshmen list, just four behind Tommy Smith (17 in 1999-2000) for the sixth spot. His 61 steals already is tied for eighth-best in Pac-10 history for a freshman. When you compare the points with the all-time freshman steals leaders, it is safe to say Harden could end up as the first freshmen in league history with 60 steals and a 17.0 points per game average.

REAL DEAL: The Pac-10's youngest player, James Harden (turned 18 on Aug. 26), leads ASU in scoring (17.7 ppg./fourth in Pac-10), steals (2.03 per game/leads the Pac-10) and minutes per game (33.7/ninth in Pac-10). He is shooting .531 from the field (tenth in the league), .756 from the free throw line and .422 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 15 20-point games (topping Ike Diogu's ASU freshmen record of 12), which is fourth-best in the league, including five straight from Dec. 29-Jan. 17 which is a first for an ASU freshman. He averaged 18.2 points (tied for fifth) and 5.1 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).


STEADY: Jeff Pendergraph has 46 blocks (he had 45 in his first two seasons) and is shooting .594 from the field (second in the Pac-10) and .780 from the free throw line. He has four double-doubles this year (17 in 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 .750 from the free throw line in his career (234-of-312). His 91 career blocks already is seventh in ASU history, two behind Kurt Nimphius (1976-80).

SOME OFF THE WALL HARDEN NOTES: In 37 minutes against a good defensive team in USC (Trojans are second in league in field goal percentrage defense at .393) on March 1, Harden missed two shots out of 18. He was 7-of-8 from the field and 9-of-10 from the ASU's four overtime games (all wins and three of them in Pac-10 games) he is averaging 24.8 ppg and 5.5 rebounds and has 10 steals...southpaw is shooting .574 from inside the three-point arc on the 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 second on the team in assists (93), including 63 in Pac-10 ASU's eight Pac-10 wins he is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and is 13-27 from three-point stripe. He is averaging 20.0 points and 5.6 boards in those nine games...shot 45.2 percent from three-point land in road games.

JUST HOW GOOD ARE THEY?: Coming into this season, only seven Pac-10 freshman had averaged 17.2 points or more in overall games. Currently there are four freshmen above that number. Only two Pac-10 freshmen have averaged 19 points and led their team to a NCAA Tournament berth (Ike Diogu of Arizona State in 2002-03 and Shareef Abdur Rahim in 1995-96).

Pac-10 Freshmen Scoring List
Rk. Player, School, Year PPG Team Notes
1. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Cal, 1995-96 21.1 NCAA team went 17-11
2. O.J. Mayo, USC, 2007-08 20.9 USC 20-10 and 11-7
3. Jerryd Bayless, Arizona, 2007-08 20.3 UA 18-13 and 8-10
4. Harold Miner, USC, 1989-90 20.6 Team went 12-16
5. Ike Diogu, ASU, 2002-03 19.0 NCAA team went 20-12
6. Don McLean, UCLA, 1988-89 18.6 NCAA team went 21-10
7. Cliff Robinson, USC, 1977-78 18.4 Team went 14-13
8. James Harden, ASU, 2007-08 17.7 ASU 19-11 and 9-9
9. Tom Lewis, USC, 1985-86 17.6 Team went 11-17
10. Kevin Love, UCLA, 2007-08 17.4 UCLA 28-3 overall and 16-2
11. Todd Lichti, Stanford, 1985-86 17.2 Team went 14-16 overall
12. Ryan Anderson, California, 2006-07 16.3 Team went 16-17 overall
13. Jason Kapono, UCLA, 1999-2000 16.0 NCAA team went 21-12
14. Chase Budinger, Arizona, 2006-07 15.6 NCAA team went 20-11
14. Sean Elliott, Arizona, 1985-86 15.6 NCAA team went 23-9

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 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, 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...Herb Sendek has won seven games against top five teams in the past 12 seasons.

MORE PENDERGRAPH: Jeff Pendergraph became the 30th member of the ASU 1,000-point club against USC on March 1. He has 1,032 points in 87 career games (11.9 points per game). He also has 631 career rebounds (7.3 per game), just 25 away from joining the ASU top-10 list.

TREE: Herb Sendek has six former assistants who are 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.

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 30 games, the numbers read 153 out of 300 starts in his 60 games (freshmen have started 84 games this year). In his two years, ASU has had freshmen make 50.7 percent of the starts. Sophomores have made 64 starts (.213), juniors 47 (.157) and seniors 36 (.120). Against Xavier on Dec. 15, ASU started four freshmen for the first time in school history. ASU's freshmen have accounted for 50.9 percent of the points this year. Last year ASU's 69 freshmen starts set the school record by 24 starts that the Sun Devils blew have easily surpassed.

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 in 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 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 281-191 (.595) 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).

QUICK NOTES: Derek Glasser has made 54-of-65 (.831) free throws this year and is 89-of-110 (.809) in his 60-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 63 games). Glasser had 69 assists and 32 turnovers in Pac-10 play, a 2.16 ratio that is second in the league...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...Ty Abbott has 68 three-pointers, best by a freshman in ASU history, and is fifth in the Pac-10 at 2.27 three-pointers per game...ASU has reached 70-points 14 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 .740 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 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.

CONFERENCE TOURNIES: Herb Sendek is 17-14 (.548) in 14 years of conference tournament action. He went 13-10 (.565) in his ten years at NC State and 4-3 (.571) in his three years at Miami (Ohio) first-round action, he is 11-3 (.786)...8-2 at NCSU, 3-0 at Miami and 0-1 at ASU...Coach Sendek made history when Wolfpack became the first team to knock off the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament in consecutive years when it beat second-ranked Maryland (2002) and ninth-ranked Wake Forest (2003).

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.

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.

MEMORABLE RUN: Herb Sendek's first ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., produced one of the best four-day runs in NCAA conference tournament history. NC State entered the 1997 tournament as the eighth seed and 13-13 overall (4-12 in ACC). NC State beat ninth-seeded Georgia Tech 60-46 on March 6, topped No. 1 seeded and seventh-ranked Duke 66-60 on March 7, beat fifth-seeded and No. 22 Maryland 65-58 on March 9 before falling to third-seeded and fifth-ranked North Carolina in the March 10 championship.