ASU wins consecutive games at Arizona for 1st time in 25 years

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona State beat Arizona at McKale Center once from 1984-2007.

Now, the Sun Devils have done it twice in 12 months.

James Harden scored 21 points and Arizona State (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) defeated Arizona 53-47 on Wednesday night to win consecutive games at McKale Center for the first time in 25 years.

"We had a great win here last year and I think this one was even better," Harden said. "It's a great team rivalry and we knew it was going to be a battle."

The emotional victory came four days after the Sun Devils knocked off UCLA (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 13 AP) 61-58 in overtime at Pauley Pavilion.

"I definitely think our team's starting to mature and come every single game," said point guard Derek Glasser, who scored 13 points. "These are two big games for us. We've just got to carry this into next week."

Jordan Hill had 16 points and 15 rebounds for Arizona (11-8, 2-5 Pac-10), off to its worst conference start since 1983-84.

The Sun Devils (16-3, 5-2) have the next eight days off, and they'll need the rest after this physical game.

Harden went down late in the second half and had to be helped off the floor. Asked afterward how he felt, Harden laughed and said, "Great. We won."

As usual, the Sun Devils asked Harden, a likely future NBA lottery pick, to carry them down the stretch. He scored 17 points in the second half and played all but the final few seconds.

"I was just more aggressive and let the game come to me, as I always do," he said. "My teammates put me in a great position to score and make plays for them as well."

But Harden wasn't the only star. Glasser hit two big 3-pointers late in the game. The second, with 1:39 to play, gave ASU a 43-40 lead, and the Sun Devils didn't trail again.

"We needed someone to step up," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "We were ice cold tonight. Fortunately, Derek hit those two big shots."

Arizona State shot 28.6 percent (16-for-56) from the floor and 17.9 percent (5-for-28) from beyond the arc and still found a way to win -- mostly because Arizona was just as bad.

The Wildcats shot 29.8 percent (14-for-47) from the field and 12.5 percent (2-for-16) from 3-point range.

Neither team seemed to have a clue about how to attack the other's zone defense.

With university presidents Robert Shelton of Arizona and Michael Crow of Arizona State sitting next to each other at courtside, the teams put together one of the ugliest first halves in memory.

Arizona had as many turnovers (six) as baskets but still led 21-18 at halftime.

"I think both teams, obviously, played better on defense than they did on offense," Sendek said.

Jeff Pendergraph had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Arizona State.

It was the third straight thriller between the schools -- all won by Arizona State, its longest win streak against Arizona since 1995.

That's a big change for a rivalry that for years existed only in the minds of the fans. The schools were separated by 90 miles but light years on the basketball court.

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson was 43-6 against the Sun Devils, who went through seven coaches during the Hall of Famer's 24-year tenure. The Wildcats are 0-3 against ASU since Olson missed last season on a leave of absence and then retired before this season.

The Wildcats had their chances in this one. Down by two, Arizona had the ball with 17 seconds to play, but Jordan Hill was called for an offensive foul while setting a pick.

The Wildcats' bench went berserk, as did the McKale crowd of 14,640.

Arizona assistant coach Mike Dunlap was assessed a technical foul, and the Sun Devils hit six free throws in the final 12 seconds -- two by Harden and four by Glasser -- to put the game away.

Hill said he didn't think it was a foul. Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell refused to discuss the call.

"I am not talking about anything to do with officials because I will say something I will regret and I don't want to get in trouble," Pennell said.

The Wildcats appear to be in danger of ending the nation's longest active streak of NCAA tournament appearances (24).

"We still have a lot of learning to do," Hill said. "We still have a lot of young fellas who are still learning the game and they're getting a lot of minutes. We just have to keep working hard."


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