Waves Crash on Devils' Defense

The Sun Devils have their own bailout plan – a suffocating zone defense. On a day where ASU was struggling on offense, they were still able to dominate Pepperdine as they held them to 26.7% shooting, en route to a 61-40 home victory in front of 8.045 in attendance. This is the second lowest number of points ASU has held an opponent to since 1949.

James Harden scored a career high 33 points (the most points by a Sun Devil in the past 104 games) and Jerren Shipp chipped in with 11 points off the bench.

On the other hand, their teammates were a collective 5-29 (17%) from the field.

Luckily for ASU, they were able to frustrate the Waves' offense forcing them to 20 turnovers, 13 of them by the way of steals. ASU also held the edge on the boards 41-29, including 13 offensive rebounds.

"Obviously James was the difference for us with his offensive production," said head coach Herb Sendek. "We got excellent play on both ends of the floor from Jerren Shipp…I thought he gave us a really good boost."

"If you just look at our defensive numbers they're pretty impressive. I don't know how many games we will be able to match them."

The first few minutes of the contest were ultimately a prelude to Arizona State's (3-0) stagnant offense. At the 14:11 mark of the first stanza, Pepperdine (1-4) led 11-9 with a small, as well as a very young lineup.

Back to back three pointers by reserve Jerren Shipp gave the Devils a 21-19 edge with 6:02 left in the half, as the visitors drained four shots of their own beyond the arc. This is when Pepperdine starting feeling the effect of the host's defense, as they were shut out for the rest of the period and trailed 27-19 at the half.

In the second half the Waves were able to muster just a lone field goal in the first 13 minutes, as James Harden scored 21 points in this period. At one point during the second half the sophomore outscored the entire Pepperdine squad.

Two free throws by the injured Derek Glasser (ribs) made it a 20 point lead, 53-33, with 4:15 left in the contest and ASU coasted from there on.

Today's game marked the toughest stretch of games the Sun Devils will encounter. Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, ASU will play three games at the Anaheim Classic. They will face Charlotte in the opener on Thursday, and depending on their results they could face the likes of Baylor, Wake Forest and St. Mary's during that tournament.

Needless to day that ASU's performance today and in its first two games of the season, doesn't instill a lot of confidence as those contests loom large. Consequently, Sendek is hardly content with the way his team is playing.

"Statistics can only reveal part of the story," said Sendek. "We're at the game seeing what's happening up close and personal and I just think we have a long way to go before we sustain the necessary level of focus and intensity we need on the defensive end."

"I don't mean to sound like the Grinch with the holidays on the horizon. I am recognizing some of the good, but I'm also left with just a little bit of a hollow feeling because I know how I want us to play. In fairness, it's November 23rd so it's early yet. But nonetheless, we can't afford the luxury of excuses and we have to find a way to amp it up even more."

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