The ASU head coach decided to shake things up a bit implementing a new starting line-up that included Allen Morill and sophomore Steve Jones, who received his first start of his collegiate career.
"He earned it. He practices consistently," Herb Sendek stated. "One thing I am is fair. We talk about it with our guys. We look at practice very clearly, we watch the practice tape and we evaluate who deservers to be on the court at any one time for us to give us the best chance at winning. Steve continues to add great value to our program. I love coaching Steve Jones."
With Jones and Morill starting, Serge Angounou and freshman standout Christian Polk were in the role of reserves, yet provided a much needed spark in the first half. At the first break in action at 14:46, with the Devils down 11-9, they were showing much more of a team effort than in their previous home loss to the Portland State Vikings.
However this deficit became even wider as the Spartans extended their lead to 6, 16-10 at the 11:42 mark. Enter Angounou and Polk and they ignited the team, as ASU outscored San Jose State 9-0 and took the lead 19-16, and never looking back closing the half with a slim 30-29 lead.
As the Devils came back onto the floor for the start of the second half, ASU jumped out to a five-point lead. As soon as this good fortune came upon the Devils it disappeared as the Maroon and Gold were over the foul limit five minutes into the half.
"We still have to grasp the fact that the harder we play, the less we foul," explained Sendek. "Sometimes you can be fooled into thinking that we're playing tough, playing hard and that's why we foul so much. That's been a problem for us in the second half, especially the first five minutes of the second half."
As soon as the Spartans were in the foul bonus, the Devils turned up the heat and intensity jumping out to a 10-point lead with 12:04 left in the half. They were led by the resurgence of Sylvester Seay who shot 4-5 in the game and Jeff Pendergraph who took a vicious charging foul that led Herb Sendek urging the crowd for a standing ovation. After that ASU had the game in the bag, extending their league lead to a game best 19 points with one minute left, finishing the game with a Sun Devils lead 64-52
Christian Polk led all scorers with 14 points, while coming off the bench. Jeff Pendergraph recorded his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds, 11 of them coming in the first half. Jerren Shipp and Sylvester each added 11 points alone while shooting over 50% from the field. Tim Pierce a former ASU player now playing for the Spartans had five points, especially 2-10 from the field.
"I don't know what we're ready for. Everyday for us is an important day: said Sendek in regards to meeting expectations. "We have to take tomorrow off, which is good because we hadn't had a day off in 13 days, and we'll come back to work Thursday morning to prepare for Iowa (on Saturday). We have to make sure we have a great practice on Thursday. That's where we're at right now."
ASU prepares to play their toughest opponent to date at home on Saturday at 7:30.
Tight Defense Nets Win
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