James Harden’s 25 points leads Arizona State past Washington, 77-63
SEATTLE (AP)—Freshman star James Harden recovered from a sore, cold night Thursday with 25 points and eight rebounds Saturday to lead Arizona State to a 77-63 victory over ragged Washington.
Harden had just 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting with a sore back in a 12-point loss at No. 17 Washington State. He had that many in the first 14 1/2 minutes Saturday. The Sun Devils ended an 11-game losing streak to Washington, which had been the longest domination in the Pac-10.
Harden, slashing inside and shooting outside, was plenty well enough to set a Sun Devils’ freshman record with his 13th games with 20 points or more—one more than Ike Diogu.
Rihards Kuksiks added a career high-tying 15 points for Arizona State (17-9, 7-7 Pac-10), which had lost two straight after beating No. 7 Stanford. No team has finished 9-9 in the conference and made the NCAA tournament.
The Sun Devils’ case for an NCAA berth hinges on being one of five teams to have four wins over teams in the top 25 of the RPI, the power ranking the selection committee uses to help choose its field. ASU has victories over Stanford, Xavier and Arizona (twice).
Jon Brockman had 21 points and 15 rebounds, his 20th double-double of the season for Washington (15-13, 6-9), which shot just 35.5 percent.
The Huskies are tied for eighth in the conference with Oregon, and even before this dud their players believed winning the conference tournament in Los Angeles that begins March 12 is their only way into the NCAA tournament.
Senior Ryan Appleby, playing in his final home game, scored 12 points but was just 4-for-16. Many of his misses—11 of them were on 3-pointers—doomed mini rallies by Washington.
Arizona State zipped to a 59-42 lead with 10:32 remaining when Kuksiks and Jerren Shipp made consecutive, wide-open 3-pointers. The swishing sound was both the net and Washington’s postseason chances getting flushed.
But the Huskies stayed afloat by scoring the next nine points, five by Justin Dentmon. Then Harden made a 3-pointer from the corner, punctuating it with double “OK” signs with his hands.
All was indeed OK again for the Sun Devils—after Harden added a 3-point play and Derek Glasser made a free throw, they led 66-51 with 5 1/2 minutes left.
Washington, the second-worst field-goal shooting team in the conference at 45 percent coming in, went seven minutes of the first half without a basket against Arizona State’s active zone defense that challenged every caught pass on the wing. The Huskies missed 19 of their first 24 shots and shot just 27 percent in the opening period, which ended with Arizona State ahead 32-26.