for this game

Harden leads Arizona State past Nebraska

Dec 8, 2008 - 3:17 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- James Harden got off to a slow start, but his teammates picked up the slack.

The sensational sophomore scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half as 19th-ranked Arizona State handed Nebraska its first defeat of the season, 64-44, on Sunday.

Rihards Kuksiks added 18 points and Ty Abbott collected 15 points and eight rebounds for the Sun Devils (7-1), who used an 11-0 spurt to close the opening half en route to a 30-18 halftime lead.

"Even when we weren't scoring at the beginning of both halves, we didn't allow that to carry over to the defensive end," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek told the East Valley Tribune. "We allowed ourselves to hang around until our offense got going a little bit."

Harden, who also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out six assists, entered the contest averaging 26.3 points per game. The sophomore guard made just 1-of-5 field goal attempts in the opening half, but a pair of fellow classmates staked the Sun Devils to a 12-point halftime advantage.

Steve Harley scored 11 points to lead the Cornhuskers (6-1), who shot just 29 percent (13-of-45) from the field.

"We weren't able to get into our press because we weren't able to make jump shots," Nebraska coach Doc Sadler told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "We've been getting 20 turnovers a game, and today we get 12, and that's not enough for us."

Kuksiks and Abbott scored 10 points apiece in the first 20 minutes and Arizona State held Nebraska scoreless over the final 4:44 of the opening half.

"I kept telling him, 'I'm going to you, I'm going to you.'" Harden said of Abbott to the Tribune. "(Kuksiks) too. The great shooters, I'm going to get them the ball and they're going to knock down shots."

Harden took over in the second half as the Sun Devils cruised to their second straight win after an 87-78 loss to Baylor on November 29.

After the Cornhuskers cut the deficit to 35-27 with 14:08 left on a 3-pointer by Tony McCray, Harden led the Sun Devils on a 19-7 run, scoring 12 points during the stretch to put the game away.

"So many of the good things that happen to us are a function of James," Sendek told the Journal-Star. "Whether he scores or sets the table for one of his teammates, he's really special."

Harden finished 5-of-6 from the field in the second half and 6-of-11 for the game with a pair of 3-pointers.

Arizona State held a 36-23 advantage on the glass and converted 77 percent (17-of-22) from the free-throw line.