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January 8, 2009

Oregon State at Arizona State Recap

TEMPE, Ariz.(AP) James Harden scored 22 points, and No. 20 Arizona State used a smothering zone defense to rout Oregon State 69-38 on Thursday night.

The Beavers' 38 points are the fewest the Sun Devils have allowed against a Pac-10 opponent in 31 years as a conference member.

Arizona State (13-2, 2-1) rebounded quickly from a loss last weekend at California. Harden was 10-of-11 shots from the field, his only miss coming from beyond the arc.

Rihards Kuksiks added 13 points for Arizona State, which has won nine of its last 10.

Oregon State (6-7, 1-2) was coming off an overtime victory over Southern California, its first Pac-10 win in two seasons. But the Beavers were baffled by Arizona State's matchup zone, shooting a season-low 36.4 percent.

Lathen Wallace led Oregon State with 13 points.

Arizona State had been allowing 59.8 points per game, third in the Pac-10. But the Sun Devils turned up their defense against the Beavers, who average 62.6 points, ninth in the conference.

On the offensive end, the Sun Devils present plenty of problems for opposing defenses. They have the Pac-10's leading scorer (Harden, at 23.4 points per game) and the league's best shooters from the field (Jeff Pendergraph, 66.4 percent) and from beyond the arc (Kuksiks, 2.8 made per game).

Pendergraph, who played with a sprained MCL in his right knee, did not score in the first half and finished with seven points.

ASU also leads the Pac-10 in shooting from the field (51 percent) and the free throw line (76 percent).

But the Sun Devils struggled early against the Beavers' zone defense, scoring only 15 points in the first 10 minutes.

That's when Harden took over. He dunked off a fastbreak feed from Derek Glasser, hit a short jumper, converted a three-point play and connected from beyond the arc.

Harden scored 10 points in about 6 minutes, and by the time he was finished the Sun Devils led 25-15, on their way to a 30-15 halftime lead.

The Sun Devils are 21-5 when Harden scores at least 20 points.

Arizona State fans stand until the opponent's first field goal of each half. In the second half, they didn't sit until Rickey Claitt hit a jumper with 14:15 to go. By then, the Sun Devils led 39-17.

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