for this game

Harden, Arizona State rout Central Connecticut

Dec 30, 2008 - 6:18 AM TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Arizona State better enjoy this while it lasts. If last year was any indication, it will not have it this easy in the Pac-10.

James Harden scored 24 points as the 14th-ranked Sun Devils won their seventh straight game, a thorough 84-47 thrashing of Central Connecticut State on Monday in their final tune-up before conference play.

Ty Abbott scored 15 points and Jeff Pendergraph added 14 on 6-of-6 shooting for Arizona State (11-1), which took a 49-22 advantage at halftime and never looked back.

"Our guys are really playing unselfishly," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek told the Arizona Republic. "When you watch them, you kind of get the sense that they like each other."

Harden, who entered this one posting 23.7 points per game, surpassed his average by shooting 10-of-17 from the field for Arizona State, which has been feasting on inferior opponents of late.

That success has been partly thanks to Harden's all-around game.

"Guys are playing well off each other, especially James," Pendergraph told the newspaper.

"Instead of guys worrying about how they're going to get their shot, they see James do his thing, and they just move where he can see them and they get open shots. It's helped everybody."

The Sun Devils, however, had a similar start last season, when they went 14-2 before dropping seven of their first nine conference games, a skid which contributed to them narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament.

It all will change soon for Arizona State, which opens Pac-10 play with road contests at Stanford on Friday and California two days later.

The way Pendergraph sees it, there's only one way to avoid last season's fate.

"It's just a matter of us clicking together as a band of brothers, instead of just a bunch of teammates," he said to The Republic.

In this one, the Sun Devils won their sixth straight home game by putting five players in double figures and shooting a blistering 64 percent (32-of-50) from the field.

Ken Horton was the lone player in double figures with 12 points for the overmatched Blue Devils (5-6), who were coming off a 67-56 triumph vs. Princeton on Saturday.

Central Connecticut, however, looked like it was still focused on its vacation from the blustery Northeast.

In reality, the mid-major Blue Devils had little chance against a power conference opponent on the road and proved as much by shooting 37 percent (17-of-46) from the field.