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Men's hoops travels north to battle Huskies and Cougars

February 23, 2009

Pendergraph Appreciates ASU's Success (Arizona Republic, Feb. 20, 2009)


The No. 14/11 (AP/ESPN Coaches' Poll) Arizona State's men's hoops team, 21-13 and 9-9 in the Pac-10 last year and 21-5/10-4 this season under 304-game winner Herb Sendek, hits the road for a pair of games in Washington, the first of which against current Pac-10 leader Washington on Thursday at 8 p.m. PT/9 p.m MT., followed by a 2 p.m. PT tip at Washington State on Saturday, Feb. 28. Both games will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and ESPN 860 AM. The Sun Devils, on a five-game Pac-10 win streak for the first time since 1994-95, 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. Coach Sendek, the second-youngest active coach with 300 Division I wins, celebrated his 46th birthday on Sunday as ASU completed an impressive sweep of Arizona 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.

The Arizona win was following a solid sweep of the Los Angeles schools the previous weekend. 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 in most cases), a streak dating to a Jan. 20, 2005 home loss to Stanford, before 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 shot 50 percent (22-of-44) and held USC to just 2-of-13 (.154) from the three-point stripe in its 65-53 win. ASU committed just four turnovers vs. USC, its fewest since it had just four vs. Oregon State on March 9, 1991. James Harden enters this week 16th in the nation in scoring at 21.2 points per game and is one of only seven players to average 20 points and shoot 50 percent from the field (only one of that group averaging four assists per game), while Jeff Pendergraph leads the nation in field goal percentage at 66.8 percent and is even better in Pac-10 play (68.0 percent). Sophomore swingman Rihards Kuksiks also enters the nation rankings conversation as he is fourth per official NCAA standards at 47.6 in three-point percentage. After going 8-22 (.267) in Coach Sendek's first year, the Sun Devils are 42-18 (.700) since and giving up just 60.0 points per game in his 90 games and are second in Pac-10 in points allowed this year at 58.9 per game, best by a Sun Devil team since 1948-49 (47.6) and 11th in the nation. One other under-the-radar note on Pendergraph is he's averaging 10.6 rebounds in his past eight games including a 21-point, 15-rebound performance against Washington on Jan. 31.

ASU is third in the Pac-10 and 12th in the nation in field goal percentage (.486), and third in the league and 27th nationally in free throw percentage (.741). After losing his first seven games against ranked teams at ASU, Herb Sendek has gone 5-5 since including a 2-1 record this year, with both wins vs. UCLA and its loss to Washington.

ASU is 19-13 (.594) in the past two seasons in Pac-10 play, the second-best mark in the league behind UCLA's 25-7 (.781) mark. The rest of the Pac-10 in the past two years: USC 18-14 (.563), Washington 18-15 (.545), Stanford 17-15 (.531), Washington State 17-16 (.515), Arizona 16-16 (.500), Cal 15-17 (.469), Oregon 10-23 (.303) and Oregon State 7-26 (.212).

With its Oregon road sweep Feb. 5-7, ASU has won four straight Pac-10 road games for the first time since the 1980-81 team won five straight and is 6-2 on the road overall. The 1980-81 team had three starters eventually become NBA first round draft picks in Alton Lister (21st overall pick in 1981), Fat Lever (11th overall pick in 1982) and Byron Scott (fourth overall pick in 1983). ASU has top-100 RPI road wins over UCLA (36), Arizona (42), San Diego State (47).

ASU also has top 100 out-of-league wins over #30 BYU (10-0 at the time) and #77 UTEP at neutral sites and vs. #64 Nebraska (6-0 at time of game) in Tempe. ASU has 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.

The folks at STATS LLC worked overtime on this one. James Harden is arguably one of the nationĀ¹s best all-around players, averaging 21.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 52.7 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.

20-5-4-50 PERCENT CLUB (SINCE 1996-1997)
Ricky Minard, 2002-03 Morehead State
Dwyane Wade, 2002-03 Marquette
Brandon Roy, 2005-06 Washington
Reggie Williams, 2006-07 Virginia Military
George Hill, 2007-08 IUPUI

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 Sunday night. 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 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 Arizona for just the seventh 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 last season.

ASU has clinched back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1993-94 team went 15-13 and the 1994-95 team went 24-9. ASU swept UCLA for just the third time in school history, also sweeping the series in 1979-80 and 2002-03. ASU swept the Oregon road 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 is shooting 78.2 percent from the foul line (104-of-133) in its eight road games.

ASU held Oregon State to 13 first-half points on Saturday (Feb. 7), ASU's best first-half defensive effort since it led Oregon State 33-13 on Feb. 25, 1995. ASU is averaging just 10.3 turnovers in its past nine contests.

ASU leads the Pac-10 in three-point defense, allowing just .326. In the home sweep of UCLA and USC Feb. 12-15, junior point guard Derek Glasser averaged 16.5 points, including a career-high 18 points vs. USC.

ASU was without a a starter in each of its two 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, which meant 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, on Saturday.

Jeff Pendergraph, who earned his B.S. in Economics in December in just three and a half years and has 111 career starts (second-best in ASU history behind only Eddie House with 114), is shooting .762 from the free throw line in his career (329-of-432) and is 76-of-98 (.776) on the year. He has 1,433 points in 117 career games (12.2 points per game) and 868 career rebounds (7.4 per game). He has 26 career double-doubles (eight this year). Pendergraph leads the nation shooting 66.8 percent and is averaging 10.6 boards in his past eight contests.

ASU's win at ninth-ranked 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 Arizona State. In his past five years he has 15 wins against ranked teams and a dozen top-10 wins in his past nine seasons.

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.

James Harden currently leads the Pac-10 in scoring (21.2) and is tied for 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 Washington State in 1978-79, the first year of the Pac-10 (23.1/2.7).

Even with a resume that includes coaching in 502 games at three schools, six NCAA tournaments, 12 NCAA Tournament games and having eight former assistants currently serving as head coaches at the Division-I level, ASU head coach Herb Sendek is still the third-youngest coach in the Pac-10 even with two new hires this year. 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).

The fine folks at STATS LLC came up with this efficiency nugget. James Harden is one of only seven players to average at least 20 points a game (21.2) and shoot at least 50 percent (.527) from the field entering the week. The others are Oklahoma's Blake Griffin (22.0/.632), Drake Reed of Austin Peay (21.8/.566), Kevin Tiggs of East Tennessee State (21.6/.543), Chavis Holmes of VMI (22.2/.523), UNC's Tyler Hansborough (21.0/.522) and Wake Forest's Jeff Teague (20.3/.511).

Arizona State did something in 19 days that no Pac-10 team had done in in the previous 27 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.

ASU leads the Pac-10 in assists (16.2 per game/21st in nation) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.36/12th in nation)...ASU's usual starting five is shooting 74.6 percent from the foul line (326-of-437)...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). ASU had 16 turnovers and forced just six. It was 12-0 last year and is 13-0 this year when it shoots 50 percent.

ASU had just 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 in an 82-71 loss, a span of the past 37 road games. 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, its fewest turnovers since it also had six vs. Oregon on Feb. 19, 2005. 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. ASU is averaging just 10.3 turnovers per game in its past nine contests and is 20th in the nation and second in the Pac-10 at just 11.8 turnovers per game.

Derek Glasser, who took a shot to the back on a pick and suffered a neck strain against Oregon and then sat the Oregon State road win on Feb. 7, 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 159-of-191 (.832) from the free throw line and has played 18 turnover free games in his 89-game career. In Pac-10 games he is 21-of-47 (.447) from the three-point stripe (eighth in the league) and 45-of-50 (.900) at the free throw line (third-best in the league). In his first six games he was 2-of-13 (.154) from three-point stripe but is 29-of-61 (.475) in his past 19 games. He had a career-high 11 assists vs. Oregon on Jan. 10 and has 120 assists and just 57 turnovers on the year (2.10-to-1 ratio, second in the league). He has 351 career assists (3.95 per game), on pace to break the ASU record of 454 set by Bobby Thompson from 1983-87.

The Dec. 20 BYU and Dec. 14 IUPUI contests marked for the first back-to-back one-pointers for ASU since 2005-06, 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.

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. 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.

According to the official NCAA statistics, Rihards Kuksiks is the fourth-best three-point shooter in the nation at 47.6 percent, as there is a minimum of 2.5 made per game to qualify. According to Pac-10 statistics, a player only needs to make one per game and appear in 75 percent of the team's games, so Theo Robertson of Cal (.540), Michael Roll (.537) and Rickey Claitt (.482) all appear in the Pac-10 rankings but don't have enough makes to qualify nationally.

Sophomore Rihards Kuksiks is averaging 11.2 points, including 56-of-112 (.500) from the three-point stripe, in his past 19 games. He is averaging 9.8 points and has 21 double-figure scoring games in his past 37 contests dating to last year after scoring 42 points in his first 22 games. He has posted double digits in 12 of his past 17 games.

ASU is 15-7 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 4-1 this year with victories at San Diego State, vs. IUPUI, vs. BYU and at Arizona...ASU has now won six straight overtime games after its 61-58 win at ninth-ranked UCLA on Jan. 17, with four of them away from its home ASU's first season under Herb Sendek, it was 3-12 in two-possession games (six points or less), in the past two seasons it is 11-4 including 5-0 this year...after losing its first 10 away from home (neutral or road games) in the Herb Sendek era, ASU is 17-12 since, and is 10-7 in Pac-10 road games after losing its first eight.

In the four games ASU has won when it trailed at the half (at SDSU, vs. IUPUI at Phoenix, vs. BYU at Glendale and at Arizona), James Harden is 13-18 (.722) from the floor, 4-5 (.800) from three and 24-31 (.774) from the foul line and is averaging 13.5 points in the second half. ASU is 4-1 when it trails at the half.

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 February of 2001. ASU also placed five in double digits in the 76-58 Oregon win on Jan. 10 and then in the Feb. 12 74-67 win over No. 11 UCLA.

Rihards Kuksiks had his best overall game in the 59-58 overtime win against IUPUI on Dec. 14. 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.

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 60 career games, Harden has led ASU in scoring 43 times, rebounding 18 times and led it in assists in 25 games...30 career 20-point games and 14 this year (ASU is 24-6/11-3)...five 30 +pointers this year (33 vs. Pepperdine, 32 vs. Baylor, 40 vs. UTEP, 30 vs. BYU and 36 at Oregon)...11-of-11 from the foul line vs. Charlotte on Nov. 27...the 19-year old Harden (born August of 1989) was the youngest player in the Pac-10 in 2007-08 and led league with 73 steals...ASU is 10-6 in Pac-10 home games with Harden, in the previous four years, it was 9-27.

ASU matched its highest ranking of the season on Jan. 26 as it was 14th in the Associated Press and ESPN Coaches' Poll. With UCLA 17th and Washington 23rd, it marked the first time in ASU's 31 years it is the highest ranked team in the Associated Press poll from the Pac-10. ASU's other high rankings of note included 12th on Nov. 28, 1994, the week after it had won the Maui Invitational, but Arizona (ninth) and UCLA (fifth) were both ahead of them. It reached 12th again on Jan. 9, 1995, that same season but eventual national champion UCLA was sixth. The other season one might think it could have happened was in 1980-81 when ASU started 15th and finished 24-4 and beat the No. 1 team in the nation, undefeated Oregon State, on its home floor on the final day of the regular season 87-67. Oregon State was ranked first or second every week from Dec. 30 until the final poll and was second after the ASU win. ASU, despite the 20-point road win against the Beavers, finished third. That matches the highest AP ranking in school history, as ASU also reached third on Jan. 8, 1963.

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.

Coach Sendek now has 34 career wins against ranked foes, including 12 top-10 wins in his past nine 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 2007-08 with a 77-55 over No. 17 Xavier on Dec. 15 (largest win over a ranked team in ASU history)...the Jan. 17, 2009, win at ninth-ranked UCLA was ASU's first top-10 road win since its 90-87 OT win at No. 4 Stanford on Jan. 31, 1998...against seventh-ranked Stanford on Feb. 14 in Tempe last year, ASU earned its first win over a top-10 team since Jan. 23, 2002 (88-72 over No. 10 Arizona)...Herb Sendek is 2-1 against top 10 teams in his past three the nine years prior to James Harden (1998-99 to 2006-07), ASU went 1-24 against top-10 teams. In its past three games against top-10 teams, ASU is 2-1 (seventh-ranked Stanford last year and at ninth-ranked UCLA this year)...from 1995-1996 until 2005-2006 (11 seasons after Sweet Sixteen), ASU went 5-66 against ranked foes (2-28 at home). Under Herb Sendek in the past three years ASU has five wins, three of them at home.

#18 ASU 74, #11 UCLA 67 (Feb. 12, 2009)
#16 ASU 61, #9 UCLA 58 (OT), Jan. 17, 2009
ASU 72, #7 Stanford 68 (OT), Feb. 14, 2008
ASU 77, #17 Xavier 55, Dec. 15, 2007 (largest win over ranked team in ASU history)
ASU 68, #22 USC 58, Feb. 18, 2007

ASU has fallen behind five times this year but rallied to win late. ASU trailed at Arizona at the half 21-18 on Jan. 21, was behind by eight midway through the first period and was down 37-33 at the 4:28 mark of he second half before rallying for a 53-47 win...on Jan. 17 against ninth-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, ASU was down 54-43 with just over eight minutes left but held UCLA scoreless the rest of the way and then won 61-58 in overtime...on Dec. 20 against previously undefeated BYU (10-0) 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...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.

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).