Pac-10 tournament: Loss puts Arizona's NCAA streak in danger
Arizona has appeared in 24 straight NCAA tournaments, the longest active streak and second-longest behind the 27-year streak by North Carolina from 1975-2001.
LOS ANGELES — Arizona State extended its recent domination of Arizona on Thursday, putting the Wildcats' long NCAA tournament streak in jeopardy.
ASU coach Herb Sendek doesn't believe there should be a cause for debate.
"Admittedly biased, but I think our league is as deep and as talented and as balanced as any in the country," Sendek said after the 23rd-ranked Sun Devils beat Arizona 68-56 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament. "Do I believe Arizona is one of the top 65 teams in the country? I would say yes. As competitors, we have great respect for them."
Pac-10 player of the year James Harden had 27 points and eight rebounds for the fourth-seeded Sun Devils (23-8), who won for just the second time in their last five games. Ty Abbott added 11 points and Jeff Pendergraph had 10 points and nine rebounds for ASU, which advanced to tonight's semifinals against No. 13 Washington.
"I think the biggest challenge for us right now will be recovery," said Sendek, who used only seven players against Arizona. ASU is playing without top reserve Jamelle McMillan, sidelined with a sore groin.
Jordan Hill had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Nic Wise added 18 points for fifth-seeded Arizona (19-13), which has appeared in 24 straight NCAA tournaments, the longest active streak and second-longest behind the 27-year streak by North Carolina from 1975-2001.
The Wildcats, losers of five of their last six games, will find out Sunday if their NCAA tournament streak is extended when the brackets are announced. Arizona sweated out the selections last year before drawing a 10th seed and losing to West Virginia in the first round.
The Wildcats have beaten the likes of Kansas, Gonzaga and UCLA.
USC 79, California 75
Taj Gibson had 21 points and 16 rebounds, Daniel Hackett made four free throws in the last 3.8 seconds, and Southern California never trailed.
Freshman DeMar DeRozan added 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots and Hackett had 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the sixth-seeded Trojans (19-12), who earned a berth in tonight's semifinals and greatly enhanced their NCAA tournament chances.
"I don't know, I really don't," USC coach Tim Floyd replied when asked about the NCAA tournament. "Let's not forget that when we were healthy, we went to [No. 6] Oklahoma and lost by one. We're a pretty good sixth-place team."
Jerome Randle led third-seeded California (22-10) with 18 points.
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