Devils Overcome Slow Start in Win

Much like their football counterparts, the Sun Devil basketball team came slow out of the gate just to prevail later on. Arizona State trailed deep into the first half, but their stifling defense helped them to ultimately defeat the Grand Canyon Antelopes 80-53 at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Sun Devils opened with a lineup of Jamelle McMillan, Ty Abbott, James Harden, Eric Boateng and Jeff Pendergraph. In the first few minutes their offense came from the most unlikely source as McMillan drained two three-point baskets. The freshman scored eight of ASU's first nine points, as they led 9-5 at the 15:28 mark. Both teams employed a zone defense, but it was the home team that seemed to struggle more with that alignment, as the score was tied at 14 apiece with 11:44 left in the half.

The woes continued for ASU later in this stanza. Harden's six missed free throws along with some sharp shooting by the Antelopes put the visitors up 20-14 at the 6:43 mark. Pendergraph broke the five-minute plus ASU scoring drought with an inside basket, but the Sun Devils couldn't do more than trade points with Lopes as they trailed 27-22 with 3:58 left in the half. Polk's long shot tied game at 27-27 which started an 11-0 run and had ASU up 36-27 at halftime.

ASU clamped down defensively to start the second half, and increased their lead to 42-30 at 15:20 mark. Abbott's shot beyond the arc increased the gap as the maroon and gold were ahead 53-37 with 8:44 to play. The visitors continued to struggle on offense, and Harden started to take over, and his 12 second half points put the Devils ahead 63-40 with just over five minutes left in the contest, en route to a final score of 80-53.

"Today was really important to us," said Head Coach Herb Sendek following the game. "After three weeks of practice we have a chance to take inventory against some outside competition…so what we'll do is obviously take this film and be able to give our guys some really valuable feedback."

Harden led all scorers, and was the lone ASU player in double figures, with 19 points, although he could have been much more if it wasn't for his 9-16 shooting from the charity stripe. The true freshman came close to a double-double hauling down nine rebounds. The Devils held the Antelopes to 37 percent shooting, but got out rebounded 34-33. Rudy Bogan paced the visitors with 16 points.

Up next for ASU is their second and last exhibition game on Wednesday against Western New Mexico.

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