TEMPE, AZ (House of Sparky Press)-
The Arizona State Sun Devils improved their record to 3-0 on Sunday afternoon, beating the Pepperdine Waves 61-40 in Wells Fargo Arena.
The Sun Devils were led by James Harden, who scored a career-high 33 points on 12-19 shooting, while going 8-9 from the charity stripe.
Ty Abbott, who averaged 15.5 ppg over the first two games of the season, was battling a cold all afternoon. He failed to score, but his slack was picked up by Jerren Shipp, who scored 11 points and played a high-energy game.
Facing a Pepperdine (1-4) team with three freshmen and two sophomores in their starting lineup, ASU was able to exploit the youthfulness of the Waves.
The game began with an emphatic Harden dunk, assisted by Derek Glasser. The Devils played sloppily to begin with, turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions. At the first timeout, Pepperdine was winning 7-5.
Instead of pulling his players, Coach Herb Sendek showed belief in his young team by leaving the starters in to work out the kinks. This was a telling vote of confidence.
Pepperdine came into the game averaging 46% from 3-pt territory, but only could muster a 27.6% average against ASU. Mychel Thompson, a sophomore from Ladera Ranch, California, went 3-12 from beyond the arc.
With 5:39 left in the first half, the game went to TV timeout with the Sun Devils winning 22-19. An ASU student came onto the court and hit a halfcourt shot to win a year of free pizzas and $2500 towards his tuition from Papa John's. The crowd erupted, and this moment was parlayed into more emotion during the game itself.
ASU used the crowd's input to play stellar defense, holding the Waves scoreless for the rest of the half, going into the locker room with a 27-19 advantage.
The Sun Devils played solid defense, bringing Pepperdine down to the wire on their shot clock multiple times throughout the contest. The 2-3 zone stymied the Waves, forcing them to shoot 29 three pointers. They only made 8 of them.
Shipp hit two 3-pointers in the first half, helping to bolster the early lead.
Harden broke his previous high score of 27 points, which he accomplished on January 17, 2008 against California in Berkeley.
Jeff Pendergraph kept out of foul trouble, playing 29 minutes and only fouling twice. Pendergraph went 3-6 from the foul line, scoring 5 points and taking down 6 rebounds. Sendek went on to say that Pendergraph played his best game of the season against Pepperdine.
With this game complete, ASU travels to Anaheim to play in the 76 Classic. Their first game is on Thanksgiving night at 7:00 PM MST against the Charlotte 49ers (1-3). Don't be fooled, Charlotte was 20-14 last year, and "returns four starters and nine of its top 10 players from last season," according to a Charlotte 49ers press release.