Devils Hold Off Pesky Vandals

It was the getaway game that almost got away from ASU. Before going home for the holidays, the Sun Devils wanted to go on Christmas break notching their ninth victory of the season, which would eclipse the total number of wins from last season. In that sense mission accomplished, as the maroon and prevailed 76-65. However, no one ASU's camp was in the holiday spirit after this contest.

"We certainly have to give Idaho a great deal of credit," said head Coach Herb Sendek. "They played an excellent basketball game today. From our perspective, I was extremely disappointed in our performance. In a lot of ways, Idaho is the team that really deserves to fell good about what happened today."

"We did a good job on defense, I don't think we were sharp on offense…there's no sense sugarcoating. There's no sense pretending…we never felt today like we were in a good rhythm."

There was a concerned effort to get Jeff Pendergraph involved early in the game, and the junior responded scoring from close range the first six points for Arizona State (9-2), as the Sun Devils led Idaho (3-8) 6-5 at the 15:36 mark. The hosts, thanks in large part for some good defense, went on a 7-0 run to up the score to 13-5 with 12:23 left in the half.

James Harden got in the scoring column for the first time with an acrobatic lay-up, which gave ASU a double digit lead, 23-13 at 7:50 mark. At that point, the Vandals' sharp shooting beyond the arc revealed itself, and they were so torrid they even managed to mix in a rare four-point play. Idaho cut down the margin to 30-26 with 4:22 left in the half. A Vandals' three-point basket with four seconds left in the first stanza, caps off a 69.2% shooting performance beyond the arc, and gives ASU a slim lead, 34-32 at the half, after twenty minutes.

Harden's baseline dunk gave the Devils a little breathing room, leading 47-38 at the 15:30 mark of the second half. ASU switched to man-to-man briefly in an effort to slow down the barrage of threes by the visitors, but the Vandals find other ways to score and trailed just 54-49 with 11:26 left in the game.

Harden started to heat up, but ASU was only ahead in single digits, and had a 66-58 edge at the 3:52 mark. Four free throws by Shipp down the stretch ice the game for ASU, and awards them their first five-game win streak since the 2004-05 season. The Devils' 8-2 record is their second best record after ten games, in the last 13 years.

Pendergraph paced all players with a career high 27 points, along with ten rebounds. It was his third double double of the year. Harden had 17 points, 13 of them in the second half. Ty Abbott chipped in with four baskets beyond the arc and 16 points. Jerren Ship was the fourth and last Sun Devil in double digits scoring with 10. The sophomore did a solid job on the glass with his nine rebounds. Derek Glasser had a career-high nine assists for ASU and the most by an ASU player since Antwi Atuahene's 10 assists in 2006. Mike Hall had 18 points to lead Idaho.

The Vandals were 13-23 from three-point land, but had just four long range baskets in the second half. ASU had a 30-20 edge on the boards; ten of those were offensive rebounds. The hosts shot 81.5% (22-27) from the free throw line.

"It feels all right," said Pendergraph in regards to his team winning one more game than all of last year. "We're really not trying to make that a note…we're trying to get 10, 15 more. We're not gonna be satisfied just because we got one more win."

"Pac-10 hasn't even started yet and that's when the real test starts…"

ASU's last tune-up game before conference play is on December 29th against St. Francis (PA) at 2 pm.

"We have to be ready to come back and get to work," Glasser commented, "we really have to have a good week of preparation and be ready to go. We have to play harder, work on details. Just doing what we do."

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