January 10, 2009
Hoops: ASU Preview
The Sun Devils were picked by almost everyone to finish second in the conference. So far, they're making everyone look smart with a 3-1 conference, a 13-2 mark overall, and a 31-point rout of the Beavers on Thursday night.
"ASU is one of the stars of our conference," said Oregon Assistant Coach Kenny Payne, " Everyone I saw picked them to challenge UCLA for the title." The Ducks on the other hand, have yet to win a conference game and shot a dismal 37% from the floor and a horrible 4-22 on three-pointers as they continued to take bad shots that rained down off the rims.
To be fair, ASU's win total has been padded more than a taxi driver's chair as they played non-conference schedule that included almost nobody. Unless you factor in Jackson State, Central Connecticut State, Idaho State, and two one point wins over the always tough IUPUI and BYU. But last weekend they showed they can play with anyone, and blow out anyone as they ran the undefeated Stanford Cardinal off their own court by a 90-60 score.
ASU is led by future first round pick James Harden and another future NBA player Jeff Pendergraf. Harden is almost unquestionably the Pac-10's best player. Averaging over 23 points a game, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and he's dominant every time he steps on the court. His teammate Pendergraff is tossing in 14 points and hauling down over 7 boards a game. They're a tough pair for any team but maybe even more for Oregon who doesn't have a good defensive match up for Harden at all.
"Both of those guys are going to be pros," said Payne, "They came back for a reason and that's, to be honest, to win the conference, go deep in the tournament and be a part of a great team. So those guys made big sacrifices personally just to be here and they sacrifice their own selves for the team on the court."
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