Central Connecticut State (5-5) at (17) Arizona State (10-1)
Monday, December 29th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wells-Fargo Arena (14,088) -- Tempe, Arizona. Television: None. Home Record: CCSU 4-1, ASU 5-0. Away Record: CCSU 1-4, ASU 1-0. Neutral Record: CCSU 0-0, ASU 4-1. Conference Record: CCSU 1-0, ASU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils are heavily favored in tonight's non- conference matchup with the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.
Central Connecticut State managed to halt a two-game skid with a 67-56 victory over Princeton back on December 20th. Considering that the Blue Devils have been idle since that clash, they figure to enter this evening's tilt with fresh legs. Still, they are a modest 5-5 overall and have yet to face a team as good as ASU.
Speaking of the Sun Devils, they are riding a six-game win streak and own a sensational 10-1 record. The lone loss for ASU came on November 28th to a Baylor team that is much improved. After back-to-back one-point wins, Arizona State crushed Idaho State last Tuesday by a 90-55 final.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between the Blue Devils and the Sun Devils on the hardwood.
There is no question that Ken Horton is the go-to guy at the offensive end of the court for Central Connecticut State. Horton is generating 20.6 ppg on 56.3 percent shooting from the floor, and he is pulling down 6.9 rpg as well. Of the 34 blocked shots that the Blue Devils have registered this season, Horton has accounted for 22 of them. Robby Ptacek (10.2 ppg) and Shemik Thompson (10.0 ppg) add some balance to the lineup. CCSU is scoring 67.2 ppg while allowing 66.1 ppg to the opposition. In the 11-point victory over Princeton last time out, Ptacek tallied 20 points on the strength of a 4-of-4 effort from three-point range. Horton scored 18 points for the Blue Devils, who earned a 21-3 advantage in points from the foul line, the most obvious contributing factor in the triumph.
Arizona State's James Harden is an explosive scorer who is racking up 23.7 ppg on 57.7 percent shooting from the floor, including 47.9 percent efficiency from three-point range. Just a sophomore, Harden is pulling down 6.3 rpg from his guard position, and he has dished out 46 assists to go along with 20 steals. Jeff Pendergraph provides 12.6 ppg, and he leads the squad with 7.4 rpg. Ty Abbott (10.9 ppg) and Rihards Kuksiks (10.7 ppg) are solid offensive contributors as well. All five starters reached double figures in scoring for ASU in the romp over Idaho State last Tuesday. Harden paced the balanced attack with 18 points and five assists, and Derek Glasser handed out nine assists against only one turnover. The Sun Devils, who finished with 25 assists and nine giveaways, shot 17-of-32 from three-point range.
Keep an eye on Harden, as he is one of the top guards in the nation. The Sun Devils will win this one going away.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 89, Central Connecticut St. 56
12/29 13:51:13 ET