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February 13, 2009

UCLA drops one to ASU

Box Score

TEMPE, Ariz.(AP) For three years, Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph had to listen to his friend, UCLA star Darren Collison, talk about the Bruins' domination of the Sun Devils.

No longer.

Sparked by a big 3-pointer by Derek Glasser, No. 18 Arizona State knocked off the 11th-ranked Bruins 74-67 on Thursday night. The Sun Devils (19-5, 8-4 Pac-10) became the first Pac-10 team to sweep the season series against UCLA (19-5, 8-3) since Washington in 2005-06.

"It's really satisfying," said Pendergraph, who had 14 points and nine rebounds. "That means I can come hang out with Darren and talk crap back to him. I've actually got something to bring to the table instead of hearing him talking about how they've been kicking my butt."

The Bruins have slipped a bit since reaching the Final Four the last three years. But this will still go down as one of the more significant victories in Arizona State's relatively meager hoops history.

When it ended, Sun Devils star James Harden scooped up the basketball and mounted the press table, waving to the hundreds of students who flooded the court. Harden, a Los Angeles product who spurned his hometown powerhouse, had 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and came within two turnovers of posting an odd triple-double - a feat never achieved by a Sun Devil.

"One thing that I told our guys: I certainly want them to find joy in the moment," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "This is a good night for us."

This was a duel between a tradition-steeped program and one hoping to ride the talent of Harden, a likely NBA lottery pick, into the ranks of the elite.

UCLA has won 11 NCAA titles. Arizona State has won 12 NCAA tournament games.

Arizona State entered in third place in the Pac-10, hoping to contend for its first conference title since joining the league in 1978-79. UCLA, which entered in first place, is going for its fourth consecutive title.

The Bruins came in with a 23-8 all-time record at Tempe and won its last four trips. But Arizona State had plenty of confidence having defeated the Bruins 61-58 in overtime at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 17.

That confidence showed early. The Sun Devils bolted to a 19-8 lead midway through the first half, but the Bruins weathered the storm and pulled into a 35-35 halftime tie on Michael Roll's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Bruins took a four-point lead different four times midway through the second half, but the Sun Devils answered with three shots from beyond the arc and a three-point play by Pendergraph on a marvelous feed by Harden.

"Obviously, a very bitter, disappointing loss against a very good team," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They got out to the early lead in the first half, and we did a good job clawing back and tied it up at halftime."

Josh Shipp had 16 points and Collison and Roll each added 15 for the Bruins (19-5, 8-3), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

The final minutes were chaotic. Arizona State led 66-65 when Harden had a shot blocked, leading to a fastbreak layup for Collison, who scored and was fouled by Rihards Kuksiks. But Collison, who leads the NCAA at 93.7 percent from the line, missed the free throw, and the Bruins led 67-66.

On the next possession, Pendergraph blew a dunk, and then the Bruins turned the ball over on a shot clock violation.

Then Harden barreled into the lane and was greeted by a passel of Bruins. He whirled and found Glasser loitering alone in the corner, and Glasser buried the shot to put the Sun Devils up 69-67 with 1:12 to go.

"He saw me at the end and I knocked it down," Glasser said.

On UCLA's next possession, Collison drove for an apparent tying bucket, but the officials ruled that he had charged into Pendergraph - a call the Bruins heatedly protested.

"I thought it was a block, because the guy was moving," Howland said. "I've already asked my video person who saw a replay of the game, and he said, 'Yes, you were right, he was moving, no question about it.'"

Arizona State still led by two with 36 seconds left when UCLA's Alfred Aboya was called for a technical foul for touching the ball before Kuksiks inbounded it.

Glasser made two free throws, and then he fed Pendergraph for a thunderous dunk that put the Sun Devils up 73-67 and sent Wells Fargo Arena into hysterics.

The game attracted a crowd of 13,368, the largest of the season by far but not quite a sellout in 13,947-seat Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State sold more than 50 tickets to NBA personnel, most of them general managers and scouts in town for this weekend's NBA All-Star Game.

"It was fun. It was electric," Sendek said. "They picked us up a couple of times when we were on the mat."



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