Arizona State gives tourney résumé a big boost

Updated: February 15, 2008

AP Photo/Paul Connors

Arizona State held on to its NCAA Tournament hopes with an overtime win over Stanford.

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Arizona State can't turn back time, sprinkle in several top-shelf nonconference opponents and elevate its insecure RPI. The Sun Devils can't rewire the Pac-10 preseason hype machine to include a standout freshman other than Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo or Jerryd Bayless.

At this late date, all Herb Sendek's squad can do is capitalize on the strength of its league and make an attention-grabbing run for the selection committee. All James Harden can do is lead his team to the tournament and hope someone actually notices.

Harden and the Sun Devils certainly got Stanford's attention Thursday night, upsetting the seventh-ranked Cardinal 72-68 in overtime. After sweeping Arizona for the first time since 1995, Arizona State continued to strengthen its case to become the Pac-10's sixth tournament team.

Love, Mayo and Bayless now have a fourth at the Pac-10's featured table. Harden rallied Arizona State from a 14-point second-half deficit by scoring four points in the final 16 seconds of regulation and then adding eight in overtime. He sent the game to overtime by rebounding his own miss and scoring with 6.1 seconds left.

A non-factor for most of the second half, Harden came alive when it counted, finishing with 23 points and collecting five steals (he entered Thursday ranked fourth in the league with 1.82 per game). His performance seemed to be too little against Stanford 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez, who combined for 46 points and forced both Jeff Pendergraph (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Rihards Kuksiks (15 points) to foul out. But the play of reserve Eric Boateng, along with well-executed double teams, shut down the Lopez twins in overtime.

With remaining games against Washington State, UCLA, USC and Oregon, the Devils can boost their RPI (72) and solidify a berth. Another solid road win -- Washington State on Feb. 21 or Oregon on March 6 -- would really help. But time might finally be on their side.

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Making the best of it -- that may as well be the Alcorn State motto.

Late checks, money crises, ice machines that don't work, a student serving as athletic trainer without any formal training or CPR certificate, a basketball budget that wouldn't cover the expenses of one athlete at a top-tier university, a staff made up of just two coaches, and road meals that include whatever's on the local buffet restaurant menu -- that is the choppy river that carries Alcorn.

The Braves are not unique. They are a microcosm of life at the HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities). Schools in the SWAC and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), the two traditional homes of the HBCUs, compete in Division I basketball just like Kansas and Carolina, but that is where the similarities begin and end.

In the SWAC the only thing chartered is a bus, and McDonald's doesn't mean All-American.

It means dinner.

HBCUs like Alcorn State endure trials and challenges that would make Sisyphus ditch the boulder.

For Dana O'Neil's full column on Alcorn State, click here. To watch video of Alcorn State on the road, click here. Video

Key Notes

Thursday was Valentine's Day, so let's spread a little extra love around the college hoops landscape …

• It was a great Valentine's Day for Moses Ehambe of Oral Roberts. Ehambe scored a career-high 40 points in the Golden Eagles' 76-71 win over Western Illinois. Ehambe is the third player to reach 40 points on Valentine's Day in the last decade. Keydren Clark of St. Peter's scored 42 in 2006 and Virginia's Donald Hand put up 41 points in 1999.

• Looking for THE power couple on Thursday night? In Cookeville, Tennessee -- home of Tennessee Tech -- Marquis Weddle scored 29 points and Gerald Robinson scored 26 points in Tennessee-Martin's 82-79 win at the Golden Eagles. No other pair of teammates scored more on this Valentine's Day than the combined 55 put up by Weddle and Robinson.

• Nobody spread the love around more than Georgia Southern's Dwayne Foreman on Thursday. He dished out 11 assists (a Division I high for the day) in the Eagles' 77-66 win at Wofford. It was a season-high for the senior, and the Eagles are now 5-1 during his career when he reaches double-digits in assists.

Tony Lee of Robert Morris scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out 10 assists in the 80-74 win at Central Connecticut State. It is Lee's second consecutive triple-double, and he becomes the sixth player in Division I history to record two straight triple-doubles. No player has ever recorded three straight, and Lee will look to extend his St. Valentine's Day performance against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Saturday.

• It was not all hugs and kisses on February 14 this year, as Florida State's Ryan Reid was ejected after throwing a punch at Wake Forest's Chas McFarland during the Seminoles' 78-70 home loss to the Demon Deacons. The decision to eject Reid was made by the group of officials that included -- we're not kidding -- veteran ACC official Ted Valentine.

Arizona State got a 72-68 overtime win against Stanford, despite the fact that the Cardinal had a 26-2 run midway through the second half. The last time the Sun Devils played on Valentine's Day was in 2004 -- and they lost to USC. And although Kevin Love and UCLA did not play on Valentine's Day, it was Love rising to the top anyway -- as Stanford's loss gave the Bruins sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.



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On Tap For This Weekend

• Pitt at Marquette, Friday, 9 ET (ESPN)
• G'town at Syracuse, Saturday, Noon ET (ESPN)
• Stanford at Arizona, Saturday, 3:30 ET (ABC)
• Florida at Vandy, Saturday, 3:30 ET (Full Court)
• Arkansas at Miss. State, Saturday, 4 ET (ESPN)
• Texas at Baylor, Saturday, 6 ET (ESPN)
• Cal at Arizona State, Saturday, 6 ET
• Memphis at UAB, Saturday, 8 ET
• Mich. State at Indiana, Saturday, 9 ET (ESPN)
• UNLV at BYU, Saturday, 9 ET
• UCLA at USC, Sunday, 10 ET

ABC regional coverage: Sat., 3:30 p.m. ET

For the full schedule, click here. All games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Full Court are also on

Top 25 Scores From Thursday

• Arizona State 72, No. 7 Stanford 68 (OT)
• No. 10 Butler 89, Youngstown State 73
• No. 20 Washington State 70, Oregon State 57

For all scores, click here.

Old Dominion beats Drexel in 2OTs

Kelvin Sampson In Limbo

By Andy Katz

Kelvin Sampson's status as coach of Indiana's basketball team apparently will be decided on a game-by-game basis.

Larry MacIntyre, the assistant vice president for university communications, said IU president Michael McRobbie has met with the school's legal counsel, the board of trustees and athletic director Rick Greenspan.

The Indianapolis Star reported Thursday night that McRobbie was to announce Friday that Greenspan would review an internal investigation and provide a recommendation within days, according to a source close to the situation.

For Andy Katz's full story, click here.

Power 16's experts seem to agree that undefeated Memphis is the best team in the country. But after that, it gets a little murkier. How did expert analyst Jay Bilas rank them on Thursday morning?

1. Memphis
3. Kansas
4. Duke
5. North Carolina
6. Tennessee
7. Georgetown
8. Texas
9. Michigan State
10. Stanford
11. Purdue
12. Indiana
13. Butler
14. Louisville
15. Connecticut
16. Xavier

For's full Power 16, click here. (The Power 16 is a cumulative poll from 12 voters and is voted on every Thursday morning.)

Wake beats Florida State, Seminole throws punch

IBM Greatest Player: No. 17 Tom Gola