Devils Capture Pac-10 Opener

There is no doubt that ASU's offensive prowess has significantly improved. Yet, the win against Oregon had the unmistakable trademark of the 2006-07 squad, a stifling defense. The Sun Devils held the Ducks to 37.5% shooting in the second half and registered ten steals in a gritty 62-54 win. All night long a young ASU team showed determination uncharacteristic of such an inexperienced unit.

"Obviously I'm really proud of our guys tonight," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "I think they showed tremendous resolve down the home stretch, to get important stops and to make plays to win the basketball game. I thought our defense in the second half was really the difference. To limit Oregon to a pair of three-point shots made…is rather remarkable."

Ty Abbott scored his team's first five points, and even though Arizona State (11-2, 1-0 Pac-10) had problems early on stopping the inside game of Marty Leunen they held a 12-9 edge at the 15:06 mark. Oregon (9-4, 0-1) started to settle down on defense, mix in some man-to-man looks, and continued to exploit the paint on the other end of the floor. Leunen's backup Frantz Dorsaivil chipped in seven points, and gave the Ducks their first lead of the game, 13-12, with 12:46 left in the half.

ASU's offensive struggles continued, and Malik Hariston's three-pointer at the 9:10 mark, gave the visitors a double digit lead 24-14. Luckily for the maroon and gold, Oregon wasn't able to expand that margin.

In two consecutive trips down the floor, James Harden drew a foul while attempting a three-point shot. He converted five of six free throws for the Devils and brought the deficit down to 27-26 with 2:20 left in the half. Oregon went to the locker room with just a 30-26 halftime lead, despite shooting 54.2% from the floor.

The tide briefly turned in the opening minutes of the second stanza. Jeff Pendergraph was fed the ball down low often and early, and scored six points in first three minutes. However, thanks to some questionable officiating calls the maroon and gold held only a slim 36-35 lead at the 15:56 mark of the second half.

The Sun Devils' youth was starting to rear its ugly head, as miscues such as two five second violations (while trying to inbound the ball) by Jamelle McMillan aided Oregon the to reclaim the lead, 42-36, with 11:13 left in the contest. Nonetheless, the ASU defense stepped up holding Leunen to just three points in the second half, and collectively the Oregon team to 1-9 beyond the arc.

Derek Glasser, who scored all of his ten points in the last twenty minutes, makes good on his three point attempt at the 7:19 mark of the second half to tie the game at 44 apiece.

In what was ultimately the turning point of the game, Harden barely beats the shot clock, as his makes good on his three pointer putting ASU ahead 49-47 with 4:40 to go. The Sun Devils never trailed again the rest of the game.

Glasser wasn't done with his heroics. He atones for missing the front end of the one-and-one free throw situation, by converting two attempts from the charity stripe, stealing the ball on Oregon's ensuing possession en route to a lay-up and cashing in on one more free throw after setting up Pendergraph for a basket in the previous possession.

Pendergraph fouled out with 39 seconds left, and Leunen converted a three-point play as the Ducks trail 58-54. Ultimately, this is as close as Oregon would come, and ASU in front of 7,690 in attendance wins only its fourth Pac-10 opener in the last twenty years and mark their first league opening victory since 2003.

Harden led all players with 20 points, despite shooting just 5-13 from the field. Pendergraph on the other hand was 7-8 for 17 points. Glasser recorded a career high seven boards (and tied for a team-high in that category tonight with Harden), and tallied seven assists. Hariston was the high point man for Oregon with 14.

The Ducks edged the Sun Devils in rebounds 31-19, as well as in assists 14-11. Their 16 turnovers and 11.8 shooting from three point land were naturally major culprits in their defeat. ASU was 17-24 from the line, but 6-8 in the last minute of the game.

Up next for the maroon and gold is a Saturday afternoon (2 pm tip-off) affair with Oregon State, who went toe-to-toe with Arizona, before falling 76-63 to the Wildcats. The even keel Sendek put this Oregon win in its proper context, as he prepares for the team's next assignment.

"Right now all it simply means is that we won one game," he remarked. "It means absolutely no more and absolutely no less. It represents exactly 1/18th of our conference schedule…I just continue to shake my head in amazement at the strength of this conference top to bottom. You can just get dizzy."

Undoubtedly, the Sun Devils will have to display the same calm and collected manor as they did against Oregon, when they face Oregon State.

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