Sun Devils Ground Eagles

In the heart of finals week, the Sun Devils had one last test before a challenging home game against Xavier. Their 60-43 win over Coppin State may look good on paper, but it definitely doesn't instill extra confidence going into the toughest game of the year. The ASU offense struggled especially in the first twenty minutes, but their defense helped keep the margin of lead in a comfortable range.

"You most certainly have to expect Coach Mitchell's team to come in and play excellent defense," said ASU head Coach Herb Sendek. "…They really challenge you with their changing zone defense…We knew we really had to execute on the offensive end. I thought in the first half, although we had some good open looks – we were really quick to settle for too many threes. In the second half I thought we did a better job going inside. Another positive, for the second consecutive game, our team played with less than ten turnovers (nine on the night)."

A three pointer by James Harden gets things started for Arizona State as they held a 10-3 lead over Coppin State at the 15:54 mark. Harden also had three offensive rebounds in that span. The visitors' defense caused Harden, and the Sun Devils, to struggle, but two shots behind the arc from Ty Abbott put the hosts up 19-10 with 11:30 left in the contest.

ASU went cold, not scoring for the next seven minutes. At the 5:37 mark Jeff Pendergraph's dunk breaks the spell giving his team a 21-17 edge. Nonetheless, the Sun Devils didn't do much offensively the rest of the stanza but their defense kept the Eagles at bay. Abbott's three gave ASU his squad a 26-17 lead.

The second half began with a Shipp long range basket, which was a precursor to a 54.5% field goal shooting in this period. At the 14:36 mark, a Harden dunk, his only second field goal of the game at that point, made it 39-25. The freshman started to heat up, and his beautiful baseline lay up, with 8:50 left, gave the Sun Devils a 45-35 edge.

ASU started to clamp down defensively, while Pendergraph was taking advantage of a small Coppin State lineup on the other end of the court. He scored four points on consecutive possessions and put ASU ahead 54-41 with 3:50 left. Both teams had a hard time scoring the rest of the way, but when the final buzzer sounded the maroon and gold won their second contest in a row.

Jeff Pendergraph led four ASU players in double figures with 13 points. Jams Harden had 12 and a game-high nine rebounds (four of them offensive ones). Ty Abbott and Jerren Shipp each had 11. The Sun Devils held the visitors to 34.2% shooting, and had 18 assists on 21 field goals. They were 10-27 beyond the arc. Despite holding a 30-24 edge on the glass, Coach Sendek was naturally disappointed giving up ten offensive boards. Tywain McKee paced Coppin State with 15 points. ASU's Antwi Atuahene didn't play due to a bruised elbow suffered in the team's last game against Delaware State.

The game against Xavier marks the first home game for ASU against a ranked opponent since 1983. History aside, it's a game that has the full attention of Sendek and his players. "I think Xavier now is playing well as anyone in the country," Sendek commented. "You look at their scores, and they're not only beating good people – they're plastering good people…they beat the team we played today by a crazy number of points. They're not only winning, but they're doing it in resounding fashion."

"It should be a great opportunity for the folks in the valley to see good college basketball…people want to see this caliber of basketball and there's a great opportunity next Saturday at 2 o'clock."

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