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Sun Devils stand victorious in Duel in the Desert

January 21, 2009

James Harden scored 21 points and No. 17 Arizona State beat Arizona 53-47 on Wednesday night to win consecutive games at McKale Center for the first time in 25 years.

Derek Glasser scored 13 points, hitting a pair of late 3-pointers and making four free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal it for Arizona State (16-3, 5-2 Pac-10).

The Sun Devils beat Arizona at McKale Center once from 1984-2007. Now they've done it twice in 12 months.

Jeff Pendergraph had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona State, which has won three straight against Arizona for the first time since 1995.

Jordan Hill scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Arizona (11-8, 2-5), off to its worst conference start since 1983-84.

Down by two, Arizona had the ball with 17 seconds to play, but Hill was called for an offensive foul while setting a pick. Arizona assistant coach Mike Dunlap was assessed a technical foul, and the Sun Devils hit six free throws in the final 12 seconds--two by Harden and four by Glasser--to put the game away.

Harden went down late in the game and had to be helped off the floor.

It was an emotional game--a big change for a rivalry that for years existed only in the minds of the fans. The schools were separated by 90 miles but light years on the basketball court.

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson was 43-6 against the Sun Devils, who went through seven coaches during the Hall of Famer's 24-year tenure. The Wildcats are 0-3 against ASU since Olson missed last season on a leave of absence and then retired before this season.

With university presidents Robert Shelton of Arizona and Michael Crow of Arizona State sitting next to each other at courtside, the teams put together one of the ugliest first halves in memory.

Arizona had as many turnovers (six) as baskets--and led 21-18 at halftime.

Hill, averaging 17.8 points per game, went 0-for-5 from the floor.

The Sun Devils, baffled by Arizona's 2-3 zone, went 2-for-17 from beyond the arc in the first half--and that was after they shot 3-of-17 in their previous game, a 61-58 victory at No. 9 UCLA.

With Arizona State trailing by three at halftime, Harden scored the first five points of the second half on a fast-break dunk and a three-point play.

But the Wildcats rallied and went on a 9-1 run to take a 37-33 lead with 4 minutes to go.

ASU answered with a 7-0 run to take a 40-37 lead. Hill converted a three-point play to tie it at 40 with 2 minutes to go before Glasser nailed his second 3-pointer, silencing the crowd.

Arizona fell to 5-15 against Top 25 teams since January 2007.