Devils Pummel Beavers

This could have been a trap game, but at no point was ASU showing signs of being the prey. The Sun Devils took care of business from the opening tip-off, never trailing and never putting their game against Oregon State in any doubt. ASU's 72-53 win and sweep of the Oregon schools gives the maroon and gold only their third 2-0 start in conference play since joining the Pac-10 some 30 years ago.

"I thought the key this afternoon was our defense," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "…I thought our guys did a good job of talking, communicating, and adjusting to the variety of things that Oregon State presented to us."

James Harden completed a three-point play to give Arizona State (12-2, 2-0 Pac-10) a 9-6 lead at the 15:20 mark. Jeff Pendergraph got into early foul trouble, which had Eric Boateng come in relief, and scoring a quick four points, helping his team to a 16-11 lead with 11:17 to go in the first half.

Harden drains a three pointer at the 9:02 mark to give the Devils their first double-digit lead of the afternoon, 23-13. Oregon State (6-8, 0-2) players Marcel Jones and Omari Johnson made sure the Sun Devils don't run away with it in the first half, and a somewhat stagnant ASU offense aids their cause as well. As both teams went down to the locker room ASU, much in part to limiting the Beavers to 34.6% shooting from the field, held a 32-24 edge.

Just like in the Oregon game two days ago, Pendergraph is fed the rock early in the second half and scored four points in the first two minutes to give his team a 38-24 lead, forcing Oregon State to take timeout at the 17:04 mark. Jerren Shipp starts to heat up a bit, scoring five points that made it 45-34 in favor of the hosts with 11:38 to go.

The Baevers made three baskets behind the arc on a trio of successive offensive possessions to trail just 53-42 with 7:37 left in the contest. Pendergraph gets a block and converts two free throws on the ensuing possession to make it a 64-44 game at the 4:13 mark and putting this game on ice. Just for good measure, he brought down the house with back-to-back blocks in the same defensive possession with less than two minutes left, to put the finishing touches on what has been arguably one of the most impressive wins by ASU in the last few seasons.

Harden once again paced all players on the floor with 24 points. Pendergraph scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and had a team-high nine rebounds and four blocks. Derek Glasser registered six assists in the game. Josh Tarver led the visitors with 14 points.

The Sun Devils shot at a 51.2% clip and limited the Beavers to 33.3% from the field. ASU did lose the rebound battle 32-30, and giving up 16 rebounds certainly didn't help matters. The maroon and gold forced 14 turnovers and tallied six block shots.

As if emotions could run any higher now in Tempe, next up for the maroon and gold is their archrival contest at home with Arizona, who lost to Oregon 84-74 at home today. ASU is entering Wednesday's 7:30 pm game with a swell of confidence, yet knowing that anything less than a well-executed game will net them their first conference loss.

"It's our next game," said Sendek about the upcoming Duel in the Desert. "That's our very important way of approaching it. Arizona has a great program. They've clearly dominated the series."

"We know we're going to have to be at a very high level to be competitive against them."

"I think we have the pieces to compete with anybody," Pendergraph remarked on Wednesday's game, "but it's no really a matter of personnel. It's matter of heart and desire, just wanting to compete."

But you never had a player like James harden playing with you at ASU, asked one reporter, which had Pendergraph back out from his personnel statement. "Yeah, there's only one James Harden," he said with a wide smile.

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