Arizona State stuns No. 22 USC to end 15-game skid

Monday, February 19th 2007, 6:25 am
By: News On 6

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ Arizona State forward Jeff Pendergraph was relieved when the Sun Devils snapped a school-record 15-game losing skid _ and already talking about starting a different kind of streak.

Pendergraph had 14 points and 15 rebounds to lead Arizona State to a 68-58 victory over No. 22 Southern California on Sunday night.

``Some people might still think we've got one, and we won't get any more,'' he said. ``That pressure's always going to be there. We've just got to win as many as we can. Our goal isn't to just win one and be done.''

Next up is No. 19 Arizona, which visits next Sunday. If the Sun Devils play as well as they did in the second half against the Trojans, a victory over the once-mighty Wildcats isn't out of the question.

``We've had a group of winners here for a while,'' first-year coach Herb Sendek said. ``And tonight we finally showed it on the scoreboard. In a lot of different ways, we have been winning every night, and this time we actually get one on the scoreboard. I think it really speaks to the perseverance and the heart of this team.''

ASU rallied from a nine-point second-half deficit to win. Limited to 21 points in the game's first 22 minutes, ASU blitzed the Trojans with 47 points in the second half, shooting 57.1 percent from the floor.

``There's no letdown when they have only 21, 23 points with 15 minutes to go,'' USC coach Tim Floyd said. ``We just didn't finish the game.''

USC (19-8, 9-5 Pac-10) has dropped two of its last three. The Trojans were coming off a 80-75 victory at No. 19 Arizona Thursday night, their first win in Tucson since 1985.

``It's very disappointing,'' USC guard Nick Young said. ``This could have been one of those games that put us in the (NCAA) tournament.''

In Sunday's other Top 25 game, No. 2 Ohio State defeated Minnesota, 85-67.

Arizona State (7-19, 1-14) has been close to that elusive first conference victory several times. But the Sun Devils always found a way to break down at the worst possible moment.

ASU's last five losses had come by six or fewer points, including a 67-61 loss to No. 5 UCLA here Thursday night.

With every loss, the Sun Devils faced questions about whether in coach Herb Sendek's first season they would become the first team to go winless in the Pac-10 since the conference expanded in 1978-79.

Another defeat appeared likely when the Trojans surged to a 32-23 lead with 15:15 to play. ASU often struggles to score, but the Sun Devils suddenly awoke and outscored USC 24-7 to take a 47-39 lead with 6 minutes to go.

USC came no closer than three points the rest of the way.

When it ended, hundreds of yellow-clad students rushed the court, mobbing the Sun Devils.

There was good reason to celebrate aside from ending the school-record losing streak. The Sun Devils beat a ranked opponent for the first since March 20, 2003, when they defeated No. 19 Memphis in the first round of the NCAA tournament. ASU had lost 22 straight to ranked teams since then.

Look for a similar scene if the Sun Devils can find a way to knock off the Wildcats, who have dropped seven of their last 11 games and just got swept at home by USC and UCLA.

``A lot of people are underestimating us right now,'' Pendergraph said. ``If we just work hard and do what coach is telling us to do, things will work. We've just got to stick with it.''

No. 2 Ohio State 85, Minnesota 67

At Minneapolis, Greg Oden had 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and Ron Lewis added 16 points for the Buckeyes.

Mike Conley Jr. finished with 10 assists and five steals for Ohio State (24-3, 12-1).

Lawrence McKenzie was a force for the Gophers (9-18, 3-10 Big Ten), but his 22 points weren't near enough against a deep and talented opponent. The Gophers lost their fifth straight and 10th in their last 12.

The No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press Top 25 is up for grabs Monday after top-ranked Florida lost at Vanderbilt on Saturday night. No. 3 Wisconsin and fifth-ranked UCLA (23-3) also could make the jump to No. 1 after soundly beating No. 19 Arizona 81-66 Saturday.

Ohio State won its 11th game in a row and was looking for its first No. 1 ranking since Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek and a sub named Bob Knight led the Buckeyes into the national championship game against Cincinnati in 1962.