ASU Basketball Notes

It has been nearly three decades since a player arrived to the campus of ASU with as much fanfare as James Harden. The McDonald's All-American who was the state of California's best prep player in the 2006-07 season, led the Sun Devils in scoring this year and was fourth in the conference in that category. Today he was named first team All-Pac-10 selection.

James Harden, who averages 17.7 points per game, captured the league's crown in steals (2.03 spg) to become just the fifth freshman to lead the Pac-10 in that category. His 61 steals established a school record for steals that was held by Eddie House (59). Needless to say that in most of ASU games, as James Harden would go so would the Sun Devils and his 35.9 minutes a game is proof of that notion.

Ty Abbott is another freshman who made an impact this season. The Phoenix Desert Vista standout was second only to Harden in minutes played with 34.8 mpg. Abbott has broken the ASU freshman record with 68 three-pointers, topping Ron Riley's 66 set in 1992-93.

Freshmen overall accounted for 69 of 150 starts in Herb Sendek's rookie 30-game season. Through 30 games, the numbers read 153 out of 300 starts in his 60 games (freshmen have started 84 games this year). Last year ASU's 69 freshmen starts set the school record by 24 starts that the Sun Devils have easily surpassed in 2007-08.

The strength of the freshmen in the conference was undeniable. Harden and fellow newcomers UCLA's Kevin Love and USC's O.J. Mayo joined Stanford's Brook Lopez and Cal's Ryan Anderson as the league's first team selection. The three freshmen are the most to make an All-Pac-10 on the 10-man team since the 1999-2000 season. Harden is the first Sun Devil freshman to be selected to this group since Ike Diogu following the 2002-03 season.

Junior Jeff Pendergraph earned third-team Pac-10 honors and is shooting 59.4 percent from the field – good for second in the league.

ASU finished the regular season ranked 5th in the conference, after being picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 preseason media poll.

ASU is just the fifth team in 30 years of Pac-10 play to go from a last-place finish (2-16 last year) to a .500 record in conference play the next year. The Sun Devils achieved this feat with freshmen making 84 starts, most in the Pac-10, playing more than 45 percent of the minutes and scoring more than 50 percent of the points.

The Sun Devils went 5-4 in the second half of the Pac-10 with three road wins (Arizona, Washington and Oregon State) and home wins vs. second-place Stanford and fourth-place USC.

ASU has won its share of close games (7-3 in games decided by 10 points or less after going 4-17 last year) and makes its free throws (74 percent is currently fifth-best in school history and second best in past 21 seasons.

At the end of the regular season, the maroon and gold ranked 47th in the nation in scoring defense (62.4 ppg), but that was good for only 4th in the Pac-10. ASU was third in the conference and 54th nationally in defensive field goal percentage at 41.2%.

ASU did well behind the arc coming in second in the league at 7.1 three point shots made per game, however were ranked just seventh in accuracy at 36.1%. The charity stripe was also kind to Sendek's team who was 33rd nationally in free throw percentage at 74%.

Thanks in part to James Harden the Sun Devils were second in the pac-10 with 7.0 steals per game. Point guard Derek Glasser was 2nd in the Pac-10 and 25th in the nation with an assist-turnover ratio of 2.38.

Research for this article courtesy of ASU Media Relations.

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