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Hot shooting by Baylor scorches Arizona State

Nov 29, 2008 - 9:03 AM ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- It may be just a matter of time before Baylor cracks the Top 25 rankings.

LaceDarius Dunn poured in a season-high 27 points off the bench as Baylor made a huge statement on Friday, upsetting 14th-ranked Arizona State, 87-78, to advance to the finals of the 76 Classic.

Curtis Jerrells scored 22 points and Henry Dugat added 14 for the Bears, who opened the season with five straight wins - four by double-digits - but had yet to face a ranked opponent.

Baylor, which will face 24th-ranked Wake Forest in the finals on Sunday, proved that it deserves to be mentioned amongst the best 25 teams in the country, making its point from long distance.

Following a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes that left the teams tied, 31-31, entering the break, the Bears caught fire from the arc immediately after emerging from the locker rooms.

"Baylor was much more aggressive in the second half," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "They really hurt us in transition. They hurt us in the bounce. Their transition and bounce led to really good 3-point shooting. They were really the aggressive, quicker team. The more energetic team throughout most of the second half."

Dugat started the second half with a 3-pointer and the rest of the team followed his lead.

Baylor made five of its first six 3-pointers after the break to forge a 53-38 advantage with 14:17 remaining in the game.

After an Arizona State timeout, James Harden, who finished with 32 points and nine rebounds, scored three straight points and Jamelle McMillan drained a three to pull the Sun Devils back within 55-44 with 13:06 left.

"They're a great team and we certainly did not underestimated them," Harden said. "We tried not to go down without a fight. In the first half we hung tough with them as we had some open threes. It was a collective effort and we didn't do our part tonight."

Dunn scored the next six points for the Bears, putting them back on top by 15 points.

The Sun Devils chipped away at the lead, closing to within five points with one minute remaining. It was too little too late, however, as Baylor made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

"(Arizona State) showed a lot of heart down the stretch," Bears coach Scott Drew said. "It almost gave me a heart attack with all of those threes they were making. I'm proud we made our free throws down the stretch and I'm proud of our effort tonight."

Arizona State had surrendered an average of 53 points during its first four wins, but was victimized by the hot shooting of Baylor, which scored a season-low 31 points in the first half while making only 10 shots from the field.

The Sun Devils had allowed their opposition to shoot 39 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range, but the Bears made 50 percent (26-of-52) of their shots from the floor and 46 percent (11-of-24) from the arc.