Pendergraph leads Arizona State to 59-54 victory at Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)—In Jeff Pendergraph’s first two visits to McKale Center, Arizona whipped Arizona State by a combined 45 points.
Now a junior with the vastly improved Sun Devils, Pendergraph decided he’d had enough. Pendergraph scored a career-high 29 points, and Arizona State rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat Arizona 59-54 on Sunday afternoon.
“I wasn’t losing today,” Pendergraph said. “That was my whole mind-set: whatever I’ve got to do to get us going and keep us in this game.”
Pendergraph hit 12-of-16 shots from the floor and had a game-high eight rebounds as the Sun Devils swept the two-game season series from Arizona for the first time since 1995, ending a 12-year drought in Tucson.
“Credit ASU,” interim Arizona coach Kevin O’Neill said. “They deserved to win the game. They swept us. They deserved it.”
Arizona State (15-7, 5-5 Pac-10) needed all of Pendergraph’s production to overcome a career-high 39 points by Arizona star Jerryd Bayless, who hit his first seven shots from the floor, including four from 3-point range. Bayless came within two points of the McKale Center scoring record of 41 points for an Arizona player, set by former Wildcat Al Fleming against Detroit on Jan. 10, 1976.
“I want to take full credit for the defensive mastery that held (Bayless) below 40,” said ASU coach Herb Sendek, whose team snapped a five-game losing streak.
Bayless, who missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 3 seconds to play, went 12-of-18 from the floor and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. But he had little help from his teammates, who shot a combined 3-of-23 from the floor and 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
Chase Budinger went 1-for-12 and scored 4 points, 13 below his average.
Bayless took little consolation from his big game. As a freshman from Phoenix, he’s watched Arizona blow two games to the once-lowly team from his hometown.
“It’s not good losing to ASU twice in a row,” said Bayless, who missed the game in Tempe with a knee injury.
The Wildcat offense sputtered without point guard Nic Wise, who underwent knee surgery last week and may be out for four to six weeks.
“That’s why we have to have other people step up,” O’Neill said.
Early on, it looked as if the Wildcats (15-8, 5-5) would win in a rout. The Sun Devils sat back in their zone defense and allowed the Wildcats to fire away at will from beyond the arc.
In the first seven minutes, Bayless hit four 3-pointers and Jawann McClellan added another. Those shots fueled a 17-2 Arizona run that gave the Wildcats a 22-6 lead midway through the first half.
But the game began to turn when Arizona center Jordan Hill picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the opening half. As Hill watched from the bench, the Sun Devils went on a 19-4 run, with Pendergraph scoring 12 points.
“Obviously, when Hill gets in foul trouble, that’s significant,” Sendek said.
After falling behind 22-6, the Sun Devils outscored the Wildcats 53-32 the rest of the way.
“Poise and composure,” Pendergraph said. “That was the whole thing.”
The Wildcats, by contrast, seemed to become more tentative as the game wore on.
“We just gave in,” O’Neill said. “We did not play well enough in the second half.”
Afterward, a hardy band of ASU fans celebrated in a hallway beneath the grandstand, high-fiving the Sun Devils as they emerged from the dressing room. It was a rare moment for a program that had lost 24 of the previous 26 games to the once-mighty Wildcats.
Asked if the sweep signaled a “changing of the guard” in the state’s hoops power structure, Pendergraph replied, “Kind of. But it’s only one year. We’ve got to be consistent now for it to really be a changing of the guard.
“You can always say we got lucky this year—blah, blah, blah,” he said. “Now we’ve got to just keep it going.”