Devils claw their way for win over Cats

As the saying goes, beauty is the eye of the beholder. However, bitter archrivals ASU and Arizona would probably agree that their contest on Wednesday night in Tucson was an ugly affair to say the least. At the end of the night, the visitors from Tempe are the ones who breathed a sigh of relief following their 53-47 win over the Wildcats.

It was the first time since 1995 that Arizona State (16-3, 5-2 Pac-10) recorded three consecutive victories over Arizona (11-8, 2-5). Sure, this victory was a sweet one, but it definitely had its blemishes too.

The Sun Devils shot 28.6 percent from the field, 17.9 percent from three-point territory, and scored just 18 points in the first half.

"It was a hard fought game," said head coach Herb Sendek. "Obviously could have gone either way. Both teams probably played better on defense than offense. "They (Arizona) played their zone. They did a good job of extending the floor."

ASU wasn't too shabby themselves on defense, as they limited the hosts to 29.8 percent shooting, had eight steals and forced 14 turnovers.

Yet, when it was time to crank up the offense, the Sun Devils were able to do just that. James Harden scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half. "I was just more aggressive and let the game come to me, as I always do," he explained. "My teammates put me in a great position to score and make plays for them as well."

The anticipated dual of the big men, Jeff Pendergraph and Jordan Hill didn't disappoint. Pendergraph recorded his fourth double-double this season, and his 11 points and 14 rebounds greatly aided Arizona State tonight.

Even though he was plagued by foul trouble early, he was able to neutralize Hill in the first half. Nonetheless, the Wildcat center ended up with 16 points and 15 rebounds and nearly lead his squad to victory.

As well as ASU's top offensive tandem played, it was Derek Glasser that sent two daggers to Arizona heart, making two three pointers in the waning moments of the contest. The last long range score gave ASU a 43-40 lead with 1:39 to play, and it was a lead that the Devils were able to clench too until the final buzzer sounded. "Coach looked at me and said ‘Derek, I just need five minutes' and he put me back in with five minutes. I just tried to give him everything I had," Glaser said.

Glasser had four fouls down the stretch but was able to stay in the game and let his sharp shooting decide the game's fate.

"We know no matter anybody's record in this series between us and U of A," Glasser stated, "that this will be a war. Our house or their house, and they brought it tonight. We brought it and we were lucky to come away with the win."

The game had its controversy, as a protested offensive foul call by Arizona, leads to a technical foul on Arizona assistant coach Mike Dunlap and ASU makes six free throws in the final 12 seconds.

It was another game that the team's true character shine through, as this was the first time that ASU won at Tucson, Stanford and UCLA in the same year since the 1979-1980 season.

"I definitely think our team's starting to mature and come every single game," said point guard Derek Glasser, who scored 13 points. "These are two big games for us (at UCLA, at Arizona). We've just got to carry this into next week."

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