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ASU 68, Arizona 56: Stream of Consciousness From The Staples Center

With 4 minutes left in the first half, ASU is down 30-28. Thus far, Harden has been kept mostly in check, scoring 6 points. Luckily for the Sun Devils, Ty Abbott has found his stroke and has already bucketed 8 points.

The Staples Center is mostly empty for the opening game of the quarterfinals. Perhaps that is the main reason, but the economic conditions in California could also have stopped the average fan from dropping a minimum of $150 on tournament tickets.

Jordan Hill is very strong down low. Herb Sendek has enlisted the services of Eric Boateng to help shore up the interior defense. Pendergraph has two fouls, so Sendek is being very careful not to lose Jeff for any extended period of time.

Right now, he is doing a timeshare where Pendergraph plays offense and Boateng plays defense. It’s not a perfect marriage,  but it is far better than giving up a third foul for Pendergraph.

No Sun Devil fan wants to see Eric Boateng on the court in a meaningful game situation. He’s good for mop up duty, but shutting down Jordan Hill in a tight Pac-10 tournament game? Not something you should be too enthralled about.

At the half, Arizona was beating ASU 34-32. The star was UA coach Russ Pennell, who was interviewed by FSN at the break.

The Sun Devils jumped out with a quick 10-3 run to start the second half. Pendergraph started to deliver the baskets, and now with 17:01 in regulation, ASU has a 5 point lead; 42-37.

ASU looks content with running the offense entirely through Harden. Abbott, Glasser and Kuksiks look for him constantly with the shot clock running down.

Some might say that Harden being the go-to guy is always what we want, but I would rather Harden score 15 shooting a high percentage, instead of Harden scoring 30 with a high miss ratio.

No Eric Boateng sightings as of yet, but the half is still young.

Read a ton more after the jump.

It’s nice to see Abbott playing with a little aggressiveness. He just missed a three, but at least he is taking the open shot. They are bound to start falling eventually.

Pendergraph is doing a good job against Hill. Sure, Hill has 14, but that is to be expected.

A lot of aggressive play going on between UA and ASU right now. Harden and Hill just got into it a little, but cooler heads certainly prevail when there are such high stakes. Neither player would want to jeopardize their team’s chances of success by getting kicked out.

The offense is working well, cutting through the Wildcat defense and finding a lot of open looks. It’s just a matter of getting those shots to fall, with 11:06 left and the Sun Devils up 48-43.

The game has stagnated, and there is very little in the way of scoring from either team. We are still 48-43 with 9:44 to go.

Glasser has stepped up his game, scoring 6 points this half to help the team get in control of the momentum.

Arizona’s full court press has yet to yield dividends, but it’s not for lack of trying: we have some pretty good ball handlers on the floor.

Ty Abbott hits a three! He has 11 points in a meaningful game! HE IS BACK!

James Harden is filthy.  That runner in the lane over Jordan Hill was straight up embarrassing for the Wildcat fans on hand, and they have been effectively silenced by the 55-45 lead the Devils currently possess with 6:33 remaining.

Lest we forget, the winner of this game goes on to play the winner of Stanford/Washington tomorrow at 6 PM PST.

Pendergraph just picked up his 4th personal foul. This undoubtedly means the return of Boateng. Could Hill take over the game against our backup center? That remains to be seen. But down 10 with 6 minutes remaining, the Wildcats face a ticking clock on their season that is set to expire prematurely.

Boateng can play defense! Just had a monster block that led to a thunderous Harden dunk. 60-48 Sun Devils with 4:46 to go. This one looks like it is almost in the bank.

The contributions from unusual sources are really spurring this total team effort today. Abbott has 11, Boateng has 2, and Shipp has 3. Right there is 16 points that can only be viewed as a bonus.

They really did a great job decorating the Staples Center in Pac-10 regalia. The underside of the jumbotron is covered in the same logo that adorns center court, and every team is represented on the lower levels with their own placard, team logo and all.

Harden just tested out his midrange pull up jumper with great success.

UA almost got it close again, drawing the game to 6 points before losing their intensity. Harden has pushed the lead to 9, sinking 3 free throws in a row. Make that 4.  ASU 66, UA 56 with 1 minute left.

Arizona is now only prolonging their suffering, continuing to foul without making any baskets. Glasser is now at the line with 51 seconds remaining. The usually steady Glasser missed both free throws.

This just wasn’t Arizona’s year. After losing Lute Olsen for good, they have now lost to ASU three times this season, and five times in a row.

Pennell sent out his benchwarmers, so Sendek did the same. We can’t risk any foul play, so Harden and Pendergraph came out for Boateng and Shipp.

On the game, Harden had a solid 27-point output, pacing all scorers.

Lets recap: Arizona State 68, Arizona 56. Can life be any sweeter for ASU fans right now?

Arizona State moves on to play UW or the Furd. As soon as possible, we will have exclusive images from courtside at the Pac-10 Tournament, hosting them all in a photo essay that sums up the experience.

Right now, Washington and Stanford are taking the court.