"We start our conference play this year with five of the first seven on the road and this being our lone home stand it was important to try and hold serve here at home."
Arizona State (13-2, 2-1 Pac-10) struggled offensively out of the gates, and was trailing 17-16 at the 8:57 mark of the first half. Foul trouble and an abundance of missed free throws naturally didn't help the cause in the early going.
Ten first half points by Derek Glasser and pair of shots beyond the arc by Jamelle McMillan ignited the aforementioned run by the maroon and gold to end the first period with a 41-25 advantage, the biggest lead to that point in the game. The Devils were strong on defense causing ten turnovers and limiting the visitors to 29.2% shooting. Oregon had just one field goal in nearly the last nine minutes of the half
Glasser and McMillan played together in long stretches today and Sendek has been pleased with that combination on the floor. "That's giving us a nice rotation with our point and two guard with Ty (Abbott), Jamelle and Derek complementing each other," Sendek said.
In the second half no team was able to make a run to sizably change their lead or deficit, as ASU outscored Oregon 35-33. The Sun Devils cooled off a bit in the second stanza shooting 47.6% after converting 60.9% of their shots in the first half.
ASU was second in the nation in field goal percentage coming into the game, and had a 54.5% mark at contest's end. Sendek noted that having deft shooters along with an efficient execution of the offense will naturally lead to high percentage shooting.
"Guys know where their shots are coming from," Sendek said as he listed other factors contributing to the team's success, "making passes on-time and on target, taking shots in rhythm.
"If you have guys that have that ability and do it, it's probably not anymore complicated than that."
Conversely, the hosts had their worst performance from the line this season at 60.6% (20-33).
Harden led five players in double figures with 19 points, ten of them in the second half. He did struggle at the charity stripe making 8-13 shots, but had four steals.
Glasser finished with a career high 11 assists to complement his 15 points, and had his first double double in a maroon and gold uniform.
Rihards Kuksiks also scored ten points in the second half, and finished with 13. The sophomore was 4-5 from three point range today and is 18-27 from that distance in the last six games.
McMillan had 10 points on the afternoon with three of his field goals coming beyond the arc. After 15 games he's converting 15-42 from that distance, which ironically is the same exact mark he had all of last year.
Pendergraph was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game, but still managed to have 10 points, a team-high seven boards, and two blocks in 18 minutes. Eric Boateng did a solid job spelling the senior and played a season-high 22 minutes collecting seven points, six rebounds and two blocks.
"I think he feels confident," Sendek said of Boateng, "and is playing better. He's played some really important minutes for us. It was huge especially on a day like today where Eric had to plug in for Jeff's foul trouble.
"You have to be able to win different ways and different players have to carry the torch. Within the team everybody has a role and it's important that Eric plays his role well for us."
The Sun Devils were 8-18 from three-point range, while the Ducks were just 5-17. The visitors however did control the boards to the tune of 37-32, and had 15 offensive rebounds.
Sendek was pleased with another high assists to field goal ratio contest, as his group dished out 18 assists on 24 field goals. "It's been a wonderful trait for this basketball team," he stated. "We talk about playing together, making each other better. It's easy to talk about it but it doesn't necessarily mean that it takes place in a game. Like I said in recent weeks, our guys genuinely like each other."
It was an extremely physical game on Saturday afternoon, which not only netted 45 fouls for both teams, but had also dealt a lot of nicks and bruises to various Sun Devil players.
Harden complained about his toe in the first half, and Sendek said that his guard "is a lot like a running back right now. He's getting a lot of carries and getting beat up a little bit. Fortunately, I don't think it's anything debilitating."
Abbot hurt his thumb against Oregon State on Thursday and it has been in a heavy splint ever since, which affected his shooting today.
Glasser has a banged up foot, McMillan took a shot to the ribs and Pendergraph is still nursing an MCL sprain.
"We're fortunate we don't have anybody down, but it seems that everybody has something that hurts or doesn't feel good," Sendek said. "These first two weekends we look like a boxer that went 15 rounds. We're blessed that nobody is in street clothes, but these guys had to tough it out a little bit.
"We're beat up and tomorrow will be an important day for treatment. J-Rod our trainer and our doctors will be busy.
Sendek wouldn't describe the Oregon game as the most physical thus far in conference play, but acknowledged that "this game had a hard time getting a flow to it for both teams. There were a lot of whistles, a lot of physical play; it just never seemed to have the rhythm that other games have had."
Next up for ASU is arguably the toughest road trip in the Pac-10, a visit to the Los Angeles schools. "That's really going to be a challenging weekend for us," Sendek admitted. "Those are two of the most athletic teams in the country and we're gonna have to play well to figure out a way to be competitive."