Devils Tame Mustangs in Home Opener

ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek admitted that he had his concerns facing Cal Poly in his team's first regular season game at Wells Fargo Arena. When the final buzzer sounded, the second year head coach saw his team grant him his biggest margin of victory since arriving in Tempe, a 75-41 route of the visitors from San Luis Obispo, Calif.

"From a defensive standpoint I thought we really made strides from our experience in Maui," said Sendek. "Our defensive numbers on the night, minus the fact that we gave up nine threes, although they took 33 attempts, I thought was pretty good. Offensively, we started executing as well as can be…as the game wore on we allowed too many turnovers."

Arizona State (3-1) held Cal Poly (3-3) scoreless for the first three and half minutes with its effective zone defense, and led 9-2 at the 15:42 mark following a Jerren Shipp three-point basket. Eric Boateng entered the game after the first official time out, and his six quick points, while displaying what is quickly becoming his trademark, an effective hook shoot, put the Sun Devils ahead 19-2 with 12:56 left in the half.

The Mustangs went another three and half minutes without a score, but the hosts didn't do much on the offensive end. A three-point play by Jeff Pendergraph at the 8:12 mark gave ASU a 24-9 lead. Sloppy play on both ends of the floor allowed the visitors to creep back and trail just 29-17 with 3:59 left in the first stanza. The margin dipped into single digits, 29-20, with 1:10 left, but the hosts ended the half with a score of 32-20.

Hot outside shooting by Cal Poly to start the second half was effectively answered by ASU. James Harden scored five points in the first four and half minutes of the second half, to give his team a 40-26 lead at the 15:29 mark of the second half. Derek Glasser's pair of free throws pushed the margin to 21 points, 47-26, with 11:46 remaining in the contest. At the 5:40 mark the score mushroomed to 62-37 thanks to back-to-back threes by Ty Abbott, and the maroon and gold coasted to their 34-point victory.

Harden notched his first career double-double in an ASU uniform registering 15 points and ten boards, both leading all players on the floor. The freshman also had three blocks on the night. Pendergraph, who played just 20 minutes due to foul trouble, tallied 14 points and seven rebounds. Glasser contributed 11 points from the bench, and Abbott had 10 points, in large part to his three baskets from downtown. Dawin Witten paced the Mustangs with 12 points.

ASU had 14 turnovers, but just five in the second half where they outscored Cal Poly 43-21. They held the visitors to 25.5% shooting room the field, and displayed fine form on the free throw line converting at an 82.1% rate (23-28). The Devils had a commanding 49-23 edge on the glass, including 16 offensive boards.

Granted, Arizona State did what they had to tonight – dominate an inferior opponent. Nonetheless, a task such as this wasn't always, pardon the pun, a slam dunk last season. Furthermore, it was encouraging to see such a young team not get over confident after a solid showing in the Maui Invitational, and come out to play hard on both ends of the court. Indeed, the foundation of the rebuilding project that is Arizona State basketball is slowly but surely getting stronger and growing.

The Sun Devils will next host Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday night at 7 pm.

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