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November 21, 2009

Hot shooting propels Sun Devils past Dons

There was something in the air Friday night at Arizona State and it certainly seemed contagious.

No, it wasn't the dreaded H1N1 virus that has taken a toll on college campuses around the country these days.

But the Sun Devils had a fever alright. They were hot from the field all night and especially from long range, where they made a school-record 18 3-pointers en route to an easy 104-65 win over San Francisco in front of 7,569 at Wells Fargo Arena.

However, this was not the only record set by the Sun Devils.

ASU (4-0) had its highest scoring output under head coach Herb Sendek, the previous record being 99 points at Cal on Jan. 17, 2008 in a double overtime game.

Junior forward Rihards Kuksiks had a career-best of 27 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, finishing 60 percent overall behind the arc. He also had a career-high eight assists and hit the board strong with five rebounds.

"I basically give all the credit to my teammates for finding me, all I had to do was put it in the basket," Kuksiks said.

Putting it in the basket was not a problem for the Sun Devils.

Six of the team's players connected on multiple 3-pointers in what was a "spree of threes" on the night. All of its players began to catch the infectious offensive bug, while remaining unaffected by San Francisco.

A 13-0 run through the 5:59 mark of the first half gave ASU a 37-15 lead and seemed to take the life out of the Dons.

"I thought the first half we played outstanding basketball on both ends of the court," Sendek said. "Offensively I thought our guys really executed the game plan, made each other better and most significantly made every shot."

The Sun Devils finished the first half hitting 75.9 percent from the field. The tone of the game was set early on and almost every ASU could feel an easy second half to wrap up the win.

Although the efficiency of ASU's offense was not as strong throughout the second half, arguably one of the most exciting plays came with 4:25 left in the game. Freshman Victor Rudd, who earlier in the day was cleared for initial eligibility by the NCAA, was assisted by Brandon Thompson on a spectacular alley-oop dunk.

The new addition to the Sun Devils definitely reinstated the energy from the crowd felt earlier in the first half.

"Its great for him that he's able to join us," Sendek said of Rudd.

Certainly the first occurrence of Rudd will not be forgotten. The performance tonight hinted at an ASU team that could have as many as a dozen players capable of impacting the rotation.

Trent Lockett finished with a career-high 19 points, Taylor Rohde a career-high of his own with 11 points, and Ty Abbott also finishing with 11 points making his second appearance after coming back from arthriscopic knee surgery.

Kuksiks describe the environment as being contagious.

"If one guy hits…everybody feels it," he said.

With the Sun Devils converting 38-of-77 3-pointers (.494) through four games, it'll be interesting to see if the hot shooting bug stays with the team as it travel to New York City to play Duke at Madison Square Garden in the semi-finals of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Nov. 25.


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