Scores

Final

Cent Conn St 47

(5-6, 1-0 NEC)

(17) Arizona State 84

(11-1, 7-0 home)

    9:00 PM ET, December 29, 2008

    Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Arizona

    1 2 T
    CCSU 22 2547
    #17ASU 49 3584

    Top Performers

    Central Connecticut St: K. Horton 12 Pts, 3 Reb, 1 Stl

    Arizona State: J. Harden 24 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

    Hot Sun Devils rout Central Connecticut St.

    Associated Press

    TEMPE, Ariz. -- Now comes the hard part for Arizona State.

    James Harden scored 24 points and the Sun Devils (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) wrapped up a soft non-conference schedule with an 84-47 rout of Central Connecticut State on Monday night, matching their best start in 34 years.

    Fast Facts

    • James Harden scored 24 points as the Sun Devils start 11-1 for the first time since 2004-05. Harden has at least 20 points in six of his last eight games.

    • Arizona State shot 65.3 percent from the field, its best shooting percentage since shooting 72.1 percent vs. St. Francis (Pa.) exactly one year ago (Dec. 29, 2007) and its third-best performance since the 1996-97 season.

    • Central Connecticut State fell to 0-4 all-time vs. the Pac-10 and 0-8 vs. ranked opponents under coach Howie Dickenman.

    -- ESPN research

    "We did some pretty good things today," said Harden, the Pac-10's leading scorer at 23.7 points per game. "Now it's time for Pac-10. It's a tough game every game, no matter who it is."

    The romp over the Blue Devils (5-6), who play in the Northeast Conference, was the latest in a string of easy victories over teams from small conferences. But the schedule toughens this weekend, when Arizona State (11-1) visits the Bay Area to take on Stanford (9-0) and California (11-2) to open Pac-10 play.

    Last season, the Sun Devils were 14-2 and cracked The Associated Press Top 25. Then they went to Stanford and lost by 15, starting a five-game skid.

    Arizona State is 1-9 in its last 10 visits to Palo Alto.

    "We're going to go up and have our hands full with a very tough first weekend," coach Herb Sendek said. "I feel like we've done some good things. But in a sense, we have a whole new season. There's nothing that you carry over. We have a very tough first draw."

    Sendek is tough to please, but he found little to quibble with in this dominating victory, apart from 19 turnovers.

    It was a performance any coach would love. ASU had 23 assists and shot 65.3 percent from the floor.

    The Sun Devils hit 19 of their first 22 shots from the field and their first 15 from inside the arc. Arizona State was perfect from inside the 3-point line until Harden missed a runner in the lane with 18:07 to go.

    "They shot lights-out," Blue Devils coach Howie Dickenman said. "Needless to say, we were outclassed tonight. We tried to fight to the final buzzer. We just didn't have the weapons that they have. We knew going in that it was going to be a heck of a challenge for us."

    Arizona State took control with a 14-2 run midway through the first half. Harden scored the final seven points on a jumper, a 3-pointer and a dunk off a fast-break feed from Jamelle McMillan to give the Sun Devils a 22-9 lead.

    ASU led 49-22 at halftime and outrebounded the Blue Devils 18-3 in the first half.

    Arizona State improved to 20-4 when Harden, a sophomore, scores at least 20 points. He hit 10 of 17 shots from the floor, one of four from beyond the arc.

    Ty Abbott added 15 points and Jeff Pendergraph 14 for the Sun Devils.

    The outburst came one week after the Sun Devils hit a school-record 17 3-pointers in a blowout of Idaho State.

    "Things have just been really flowing for us," Pendergraph said.

    Ken Horton scored 12 for the Blue Devils.

    The Sun Devils' opponents entered Monday with a combined 58-68 record. ASU's resume includes wins over Mississippi Valley State (0-13), Jackson State (1-10), Pepperdine (2-12) and Idaho State (2-10).

    Last year, ASU also had a fast start, but it proved to be a mirage. After opening 14-2, the Sun Devils lost seven of their first nine Pac-10 games and narrowly missed the NCAA tournament.

    This time, they plan to avoid a repeat as the conference grind begins.

    "We've been waiting," Harden said. "We're excited to do some things in the Pac-10."

    Dickenman thinks Arizona State could challenge for a spot in the Final Four next March.

    "I told the team inside, I don't want to put any pressure on Herb or anybody else, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was a final-eight team," Dickenman said. "Because they have some answers and they have some toughness."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    CCSU
    ASU
    Points 47 84
    FG Made-Attempted 17-47 (.362) 32-49 (.653)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-12 (.500) 9-20 (.450)
    FT Made-Attempted 7-10 (.700) 11-14 (.786)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 12 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 0 41

    2008-09 Season

    DATEGAMELINKS
    » Dec 29, 2008 @ASU 84, CCSU 47Recap