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Sun Devils scorch Ducks

January 10, 2009

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One blowout victory at a time, Arizona State is looking like a contender in the Pac-10.

The latest evidence came Saturday afternoon, when the 20th-ranked Sun Devils romped to a 76-58 victory over Oregon behind Derek Glasser's 15 points and career-high 11 assists.

James Harden scored 19 points for the Sun Devils (14-2, 3-1 Pac-10), whose three conference wins have come by an average of 26 points.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," said Glasser, a junior who had his first career double-double. "We've still got a few kinks to work out. It's still early in the Pac-10 season. But I like where we're at right now. We've got a tough road ahead of us these next three games."

The road takes the Sun Devils to Los Angeles, where they will meet Southern California (10-4, 1-1) on Thursday night and No. 10 UCLA (12-2, 2-0) on Saturday. Then Arizona State visits arch rival Arizona, which entered Saturday 9-5.

"There's nothing easy," coach Herb Sendek said.

But the Sun Devils, two years removed from an 8-22 record, have been making it look easy lately. They opened Pac-10 play with a 30-point rout at Stanford, then bounced back from a loss at Cal to drub Oregon State by 31.

On Saturday, they wasted little time putting away the Ducks (6-10, 0-4), off to their worst start in Pac-10 play since 1992-93, when they lost their first 11 games and finished 3-15.

Leading 24-20 with 6 minutes to go in the first half, the Sun Devils took command with a 15-3 run sparked by Jamelle McMillan, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

Arizona State led 41-25 at halftime and was never threatened the rest of the way.

The Sun Devils had a scary moment late in the first half, when Harden limped off the floor with a left toe injury. He stretched out on the floor in front of the bench and was treated by a trainer but soon re-entered the game.

"He's a lot like a running back right now who's getting a lot of carries," Sendek said. "He's getting beat up a little bit."

The Sun Devils limited the Ducks to one field goal in the last 8:49 before halftime. Struggling to solve Arizona State's matchup zone, Oregon shot 38.9 percent from the floor, 29.4 percent from beyond the arc.

"We were right there in the game, then all of a sudden there was a bad shot, there's a missed layup here or there, we had a turnover where we threw it out of bounds," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "They had a little bit of momentum start going for themselves, and they turned the game over right there, I thought."

Despite the loss, Kent said he was pleased with his young team's effort-- except for leading scorer Tajuan Porter, whom he benched for the entire second half. Kent said Porter, who scored three points in 16 minutes, sat because he didn't dive for a loose ball.

"There was a hustle play that needed to be made," Kent said. "He didn't make it. He didn't agree with it. So we wanted him to sit down and let him take a look at it and let those freshmen play out the second half."

One of those freshmen was Drew Wiley, who came off the bench to score 12 points. LeKendric Longmire added 15 for Oregon.

After hitting 16 of 18 shots in the second half of a victory over Oregon State on Thursday night, the Sun Devils shot 54.5 percent (24-of-44) from the floor against the Ducks. They entered shooting 51.8 percent from the floor, second in the nation.

"The key shooting the ball, more than anything else, is to have good shooters," Sendek said.

The usually reserved Sendek was in a buoyant mood after the Sun Devils' latest romp, boldly predicting an Arizona Cardinals playoff victory over Carolina on Saturday night. He also picked his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers to beat San Diego on Sunday.

"It's easy to predict when you're not competing, right?" Sendek said with a chuckle.