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Harden stars as Arizona State tops Pepperdine

Nov 24, 2008 - 2:50 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Sophomore sensation James Harden nearly outscored Pepperdine himself.

Harden had 33 points and 11 rebounds as 15th-ranked Arizona State used a suffocating defense to overwhelm Pepperdine, 61-40, on Sunday.

The 6-4 guard carried Arizona State offensively, knocking down 12-of-19 shots from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line to set a career high in points.

"I just tried to come out here and give my team all my effort," Harden said. "It's a team game. I just try and get them involved."

Jerren Shipp was the only other Sun Devil in double figures with 11 points as they managed to shoot just 25 percent (9-of-36) outside of Harden. The Sun Devils (3-0) made just 4-of-21 attempts from behind the arc.

Pepperdine (1-4) hung with Arizona State in the opening 20 minutes, trailing just 27-19 at halftime. Neither team shot well from the field, but Harden changed that at the start of the second half.

"We can get a lot better on the offensive and defensive end," Harden said.

A first-team All-Pac-10 selection a year ago, Harden scored the first 17 points of the second half for the Sun Devils to propel them to their best start since 2005.

The Waves shot just 26 percent (12-of-45) from the field and made only four two-point field goals. They sank 8-of-28 3-point attempts and were led by Dane Suttle Jr.'s 11 points.

"It was a struggle against their zone defense," Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury said. "We're a little too inexperienced to play against a zone like that for 40 minutes. They suffocated us with it. We have no inside game right now, and when everything has to be done on the perimeter, they contested our 3-pointers and made it harder to shoot."

Pepperdine has lost four straight after a season-opening win against California State Monterey Bay.

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    PEPPERDINE 19 21 40
    ARIZONA ST (15) 27 34 61 FINAL

    Nov 23 5:53 PM


    Nov 23 4:46 PM