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Harden Locked Down As Trojans Upset Sun Devils

Final - 1.15.2009 1 2 Total
Arizona St. Sun Devils 26 23 49
USC Trojans 19 42 61

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In a disappointing game, the Sun Devils lost to USC in Southern California last night.The loss brings ASU to 14-3 on the season, and USC improves to 11-5.

James Harden was neutralized and was entirely ineffective, scoring only 4 points, while dishing out one assist and turning the ball over twice.

Leading the scoring for ASU was Rihards Kuksiks, who scored 16 on 5/7 shooting. Jeff Pendergraph and Derek Glasser added 13 points each. DeMar DeRozan led USC with 22 points.

From the AP recap of the game:

"We guarded as well as we've guarded since I've been here," said fourth-year USC coach Tim Floyd. "Daniel Hackett didn't make a field goal, but played as well as any player I've had at USC. He was outstanding."

Floyd said he'd have to go back to his days as coach at Iowa State (1994-98) to remember a player of his performing as well on defense as Hackett did.

Harden, a 6-foot-5 sophomore averaging a conference-leading 23.1 points, missed all eight of his field goal attempts and went 4-of-7 from the foul line.

"I was able to frustrate him, make him settle for the jumper late in the game," Hackett said. "Once I saw his jumper wasn't going, I tried to crowd him. I just tried to contain him without fouling. We really did a great job with all five guys loading on him. I just did my job. Without the help of my teammates, it's not happening."

Harden said Hackett "just played any regular defense that I've seen before."

"He was physical, I just wasn't being aggressive from the get-go like I usually am," Harden added. "They played great team defense."

ASU coach Herb Sendek said the Trojans face-guarded Harden wherever he went.

"They just took away James and were willing to give other guys shots," Sendek said. "They just beat us in every way in the second half."

Arizona State finished shooting 34.1 percent with 15 turnovers.

Unacceptable. Of course, we knew that ASU wasn't going to win every game, as that is completely unlikely for any team to do (just look at UNC's recent lapse). We can still take solace in the fact that when James gets going, this team is tough to beat. We cannot ask for anything better than that.