Familiar formula nets Devils a convincing win

It was a nasty case of Déjà Vu for Oregon State on Thursday night in Tempe. An improved Beavers team looked much like the Pac-10 winless squad of 2008, while the Sun Devils reverted back to their brand of efficient offense and suffocating defense. ASU shot a jaw dropping 88.9 percent in the second half as they routed the visitors from Corvallis 69-38 in front of 7,004 fans at Wells Fargo Arena.

"Obviously we were very pleased with our defensive focus and effort tonight," said head coach Herb Sendek who's squad limited Oregon State (6-7, 1-2 Pac-10) to 28.6% shooting in the first half. "Oregon State runs a lot of great action. They have a number of very capable outside shooters. Last year when they played them in Corvallis they hit 13 3's against us.

"I thought our guys were really dialed in to what we needed to do defensively this evening."

The Beavers were just 4-20 beyond the arc, and their 38 points set a mark for the fewest points ASU has ever allowed in a Pac-10 game.

Guard James Harden described his team's defensive efforts as "solid" and added that it didn't take unnecessary risks. "We extended in front of our man, played really good defense, and rebounded the ball real well," Harden explained. "It was an all-out effort as a team."

Not only did Arizona State (13-2, 2-1) shoot 65.1 percent from the field, but 22 of their 28 field goals came via assists.

"Offensively, it was good to see us getting back to making each other better," Sendek noted. "We played unselfishly and I liked that a lot tonight.

"Our group has bought into that. They like each other, they enjoy playing together and when we do that we're better. When we don't, we aren't as good."

Surprisingly enough, even in such a dominant win, ASU didn't enjoy a double digit lead until just the 3:44 mark of the first half, where a three-pointer by Harden gave ASU a 25-15 lead. On defense the Sun Devils surrendered just two points in the last nine minutes of the half, as they went on a 13-2 run.

Things went from bad to worse for Oregon State. They didn't score until the 14:23 mark of the second half, enduring a stretch of 14 scoreless minutes, and saw their deficit more than double from halftime until the final buzzer sounded.

Sendek was naturally impressed by the scorching shooting percentage in the second stanza, where the Sun Devils went 16-18 from the field, but quipped that "there's always room for improvement."

Harden led ASU with 22 points, missing just one field goal (10-11) and paced his squad with seven assists. The sophomore was just happy to bounce back his 9-22 performance against Cal on Sunday.

"I wanted to come back in our first (Pac-10) home game and play better than I did," he said.

The Beavers presented a rare 1-3-1 zone defense, which judging by the numbers naturally didn't pose the level of challenge that ASU expected.

"Early we found the nooks and crannies of it," Harden said. "We attacked it from the get-go. They got out of it early, went to a 2-3 and back to a 1-3-1. Whatever they did we tried to attack it and make each other better by passing the ball and getting open shots.

"It didn't matter what they were gonna go. We had to focus on what we do on offense and defense. We knew our offense was gonna come, but on the defensive end I think we did a pretty good job."

Rihards Kuksiks was just 3-8 from long range, but finished with 13 points. Jamelle McMillan had a career-high six boards which also paced the Sun Devils tonight.

Jeff Pendergraph who's been nursing his sprained MCL played just 22 minutes, not because his knee injury but the rather the quick foul trouble he got into. The forward had two fouls with just over two minutes elapsed in the game. Pendergraph scored seven points, and had four rebounds and a couple of blocks.

"I think Jeff's knee is doing as well as can be expected," Sendek stated. "I think Jeff did a great job all week of keeping a really positive disposition, and that's important for your leader to show the face that this team needs to see. I'm sure he's been sore. He's less than 100%, but you can't detect that from the way that he has carried himself.

"I think that has been really good for our team. It gives those guys confidence that the big fella is with us."

Another injury that ASU is now dealing with is the left thumb of Ty Abbott. He did come back into the game after he hurt it, but had team trainers examine his injury after the game.

Lathen Wallace scored 13 points for Oregon State.

Not that ASU would rest on its laurels after thrashing an opponent, but the quick turnaround they are going through will undoubtedly not allow them to bask in the glory of Thursday night's win. The Maroon and gold will host the Oregon Ducks at Noon and the preparation for that contest will be challenging according to Sendek.

"I think it's very hard to play any game at 8:37 at night because it's a long day for everybody," Sendek stated. "And then to turn around and play at Noon on Saturday obviously gives you a very short recovery swing and doesn't give you a lot of time to prepare.

"But that's what it is and we're gonna have to lace them up and be ready against an Oregon team that is deep, is quick, applies a lot of pressure. So they're a high energy team that we face."

Sendek mentioned that there was no special sense of urgency for his team to win on Thursday after coming away from the Bay Area with a split. In essence, that speaks to the character of the Sun Devils.

"Those guys are pretty even keel," Sendek explained. "That's been a trademark of our group, even in my first year here. Typically when you come into a practice, it's hard to detect what happened in the last game. Whether that's sometimes good? Maybe. Sometimes maybe not good. But they're a pretty steady group."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories