A quick start was exactly what the Arizona State head coach had hoped for and got just that. The Sun Devils got off on the right foot and led by about ten for most of the first half.
"I thought Collison took over the game when we went up eleven. His defensive play was remarkable. He almost single handedly disrupted what we were trying to do. He's really quick, experienced and so talented. The next thing you know, we go in and it's tied at half time." Added Sendek.
Despite the tie, the Sun Devils were turning the ball over on offense in the first half.
"In our first game we only had eight turnovers in forty five minutes and we had eleven at the half. When you turn the ball over against UCLA usually it results in an immediate layup or an open three in transition. It fuels their offense."
After blowing a sizeable first half lead Arizona State struggled to regain control of the game in the second half and the Bruins led for a majority of the final stanza. Fueled by a raucous crowd, the Sun Devils bounced back to take a lead with seven minutes and forced a seesaw battle the rest of the way.
"The crowd definitely helped us tonight. The crowd shares in the win. They get credit. They made a difference. It was fun, it was electric and they picked us up a couple times when we were on the mat. I know when you have that many people standing and cheering for you, you can reach down just a little bit further and deeper and they made a difference tonight. That's great. That's college basketball."
Sophomore guard James Harden was a force in the second half, but it was his movement of the ball in the closing minutes that did the Bruins in rather than his ability to score.
A dish to Derek Glasser for a three pointer put the Devils on top 69-67 with only 1:16 left on the clock and gave the maroon and gold a lead they would never relinquish.
"I drove right. Josh (Shipp) was forcing me left. I drove right and Darren Collison helped. (Collison) was helping all game. Derek (Glasser) was telling me to look for him. It was hard. In the end I passed it to (Glasser), shipped it to the corner, (Glasser) made a big three and put us up two." Commented Harden.
The win was the Sun Devils is their nineteenth of the season and eighth in conference play.
"The one thing that I told our guys is that I certainly want them to find joy in the moment. This is a good night for us," Said Sendek.
Up next for the Sun Devils is a rare Sunday contest with the USC Trojans. The extra day of rest is something that will not be undervalued by Sendek.
"That extra day just gives you a little more time to prepare but the one thing that is always true is the same for both teams, whether its one day or two it's the same for both teams. We'll have a lot of work to do to get ready for Sunday night, that's for sure."