Arizona State (25-9) never trailed at the American Airlines Arena this afternoon. Derek Glasser scored 17 points, one point of his career high which he would eventually achieve today, in the first half. Harden was regulated to just two points, both from the line during the same period.
Temple (22-12) did have a size advantage that never materialized, as Jeff Pendergraph was able to muscle around seven footer Sergio Olmos, and contribute 11 first half points that helped the Sun Devils jump to a 29-13 lead at the 8:13 mark.
""Different guys stepped up for us at different times," Sendek noted, "but most certainly Derek and Jeff had outstanding games for us today that allowed us to come away with the win."
Owls' star Dionte Christmas helped bring down the lead to 29-25 with just under two minutes left. The Devils were scores for nearly seven minutes, until two three pointers by Glasser gave the maroon and gold a little bit of breathing room at the half, with ASU leading 35-26.
The Sun Devils were held scoreless for the first 3:17 minutes of the second stanza, when Ty Abbott scored his first points of the game, a shot beyond the arc, but Christmas continued his roll and together with Olmos brought down the deficit to 38-34 at the 15:29 mark.
Six straight points by Pendergraph increased the lead to a 44-36 at the 13:16 mark, but Lavoy Allen helps Temple's cause with seven second half points and along with back to back Christmas' three pointers, the Owls were trailing just 52-49 with 6:57 left. But that's as close as Temple would come to reversing its fortunes in Miami.
Harden scored his lone field goal, a three pointer, with 4:45 left to push the lead up to 56-49.
"I thought James down the stretch really made several big plays to get us over the hump," Sendek stated.
ASU scored its last ten points from the charity stripe (10-12) to seal the school's first NCAA tournament win since 2003.
Harden and Pendergraph each had seven boards to pace ASU; while Glasser had a team high four assists. Christmas led Temple with 29 points.
The Sun Devils shot 51.3 percent for the game, while holding the Owls to 37.3 percent. ASU was very efficient from long range, converting 8-14 shots. Temple edged ASU on the glass 29-27 and forced 11 Sun Devil turnovers.
Up next for the Sun Devils is Syracuse University, who prior to ASU's game beat Stephen F. Austin 59-44. Tip-off is Sunday at Noon ET/ 9 am PT.
"Obviously they have one of the nation's premier teams," Sendek said of his next opponent, "and they are arguably playing their best basketball of the season right now. I think anybody who watched that Big East tournament had to kind of come away shaking their head at how well they are playing.
"I think they are one of the very elite teams in the country, and that's going to require an amazing effort on our part to be competitive on Sunday."