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November 8, 2006Playing in front of a Wells Fargo Arena crowd for the first time this season, Arizona State defeated the University of Victoria 58-53 Tuesday. First-year coach Herb Sendek started two freshmen, including guard Christian Polk, who led the Sun Devils with a team-high 15 points.
Leading up to the game it was expected that Sendek would elect to start either Polk or classmate Jerren Shipp alongside junior Antwi Atuahene in the backcourt. He instead went with a three-guard lineup that featured all three players, along with forwards Allen Morill and Jeff Pendergraph.
The starting lineup may or may not stick moving forward.
"It's tough to say," Sendek said. "I don't put as much stock in that as moms and girlfriends do."
ASU took 23 field goal attempts in the first half, 16 of which were 3-pointers before Sendek informed his team at halftime that he'd like them to do a better job working to get the ball inside to Pendergraph.
The sophomore forward responded by taking seven of his eight field goal attempts in the game after intermission, connecting on six of them and finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. All of his scoring came in the second half.
After leading 26-23 at the break, the Sun Devils opened up their lead by taking more high percentage shots in the second half, leading by double digits for a period of time before the Vikes came back to cut the lead to three points in the final minute.
Nine Sun Devils played 10 or more minutes in the game for ASU, with Shipp and Polk leading the way, at 35 and 33 minutes respectively. Neither player shot the ball particularly well, with Polk finishing 4-of-13 and Shipp making 2-of-8 from the field, though Polk's 3-of-8 from beyond the 3-point stripe was solid. Polk also iced the game with a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds of action.
"As freshmen, coach told us to be ready," Polk said, after getting an idea he might start two days earlier during a scrimmage with UNLV. "We don't have that many guys. We're going to have to play."
Coming off the bench, senior forward Serge Angounou had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The Sun Devils certainly appear to be very much be a work in progress, especially on the offensive end, but their energy and enthusiasm was very high and that showed clearly on the defensive end. They forced 20 turnovers and employed a lot of full court and thee-quarter court presser that was effective at times.
Sendek rotated players quickly through the lineup, particularly in the first half when 12 Sun Devils had entered the game by the halfway mark in the period, including walk-ons Steve Jones and Robby Alridge.