Last night, the Arizona State Sun Devils played 20 good minutes of basketball and won a Pac-10 game.
Actually, let's backtrack.
James Harden took over in the 2nd half against an 0-9 Pac-10 team, regardless of where the game was being played, and ASU won a basketball game in which they were moribund in the 1st half and played in spurts in the 2nd.
Either way, the Devils won a game they should have at Mac Court yesterday, and there were good things to take from it, but concerns still surround this team as they head to Corvallis on Saturday.
There's no taking away from what James Harden did last night. There's obviously a reason we all complain and moan when the super sophomore plays hesitant basketball; we wonder why he doesn't take open shots early in games and such, and last night we saw what happens when James plays up to his potential.
The Sun Devils certainly didn't have their legs under them throughout the 1st half. They took ill-advised shots, passed poorly and turned the ball over throughout the first 20 minutes. With Rihards Kuksiks out with an illness and the shorter, less heady Jerren Shipp in his place on the wing, they left good shooters like Tajuan Porter wide open for shots from the perimeter and let Michael Dunigan dominate the paint off the bench. I couldn't help but sit and wonder if the Devils were actually putting themselves in the position of potentially losing to the woeful Ducks.
ASU was getting a steady dose of their own medicine, as coach Ernie Kent picked up on the Devils inability to be consistent from the field. His hybrid 3-2 zone frustrated the Sun Devils throughout the first frame and even held them scoreless for over 4 minutes.
Then Harden showed up.
With Jeff Pendergraph returning to his doldrums of taking poor fouls and spending key minutes riding the pine, Harden stepped up and nailed two key three-pointers to start the 2nd half and turn a precarious 5-point halftime lead into an 11-point cushion before the under-16:00 time out.
From there on, the story of the game was either James being able to hit from wherever he was on the floor. He drove the lane, owned the paint and nailed tear trop treys throughout the 2nd half.
He finally put this team on his back and carried the Devils to victory.
Scary moments late in the 2nd half occured when Derek Glasser obviously reaggravated a head injury and remained down on the floor for about 10 minutes after a collision. I will not be surprised if Glasser sits out tomorrow's game at Oregon State. That was a nasty looking shot; nothing illegal, just two players playing tenacious basketball; from Joevan Catron.
Regardless of his minor flaws and frustrations, Glasser is this team's best floor leader and he needs to be ready for the stretch run against the best the Pac-10 has to offer.