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Youthful Sun Devils trounce No. 17 Xavier, 77-55

December 15, 2007

By Matt Storey, ASU Media Relations

With a stellar performance at both ends of the floor, the ASU men's basketball team knocked off No. 17 Xavier with a resounding 77-55 victory Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils shot 59.5 percent from the field, and they held the Musketeers to just 30.6 percent, including 5-24 from outside the arc.

"A good win for our team," head coach Herb Sendek said. "We really had a good week of practice, and I really believe that paid dividends for us. It's good to see that the work this week paid off."

Sendek credited his team's defense in ASU's 22-point win, the biggest margin of victory over a ranked opponent in school history.

"I thought the key was our defense," Sendek said. "I thought our defensive effort was as good as it had been."

Freshman guard Ty Abbott led the Sun Devils with 19 points on 7-10 shooting, and he made four of his five 3-pointers in the second half to help ASU put away the victory.

Sophomore guard Jerren Shipp added 17 points and seven rebounds despite hyper-extending his knee earlier in the week.

"Jerren really demonstrated his toughness," Sendek said. "He essentially went through the week without practicing, and he came out and gave us a huge lift. He really gave our team an edge."

Freshman guard James Harden had 16 points while junior forward Jeff Pendergraph had nine points and 12 rebounds, eight in the second half.

"It's definitely the first really big step in establishing that identity that we've been talking about," Pendergraph said of the win. "We knew that if we were to play our game how we were supposed to, we could play with anyone."

The Sun Devils held Xavier's two senior guards, Drew Lavender and Stanley Burrell, to just 21 combined points on 5-21 shooting, and they also out-rebounded the Musketeers 34-30.

The game did not start out well for ASU, as Xavier jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead in less than two minutes behind an alley-oop dunk and consecutive 3-pointers, forcing Sendek to call a quick timeout.

"I wasn't very happy at that timeout, because a couple of the things they got us on were things that we had rehearsed the most," Sendek said. "I think what really made my hair stand up on my head was that we had gone over some of that stuff so many times, and we still got caught with our pants down, so to speak."

However, the Sun Devils responded with a 12-3 run from there to take their first lead of the game.

"We've been there before, with Illinois, so we knew we had to play together," Abbott said. "We worked on that all week."

After a 7-0 run by Xavier, ASU went on a 15-2 run of its own and never trailed again the rest of the way.

The Sun Devils led by five at halftime, and they quickly increased their lead to 13 behind three 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second half. In total, ASU made seven of its 11 3-point attempts in the second half.

The win was ASU's second straight over a ranked opponent, dating back to last season's 68-58 win over No. 22 USC on Feb. 18, 2007.

"It says that ASU, they're going to be one of those teams when you play them, it's going to be a game and you've got to be ready for 40 minutes," Pendergraph said of what this game showed about his team.

The Sun Devils return to action Tuesday, when they host Montana State at 7 p.m.