Nothing can stop James Harden right now—except five fouls.
Arizona State’s star guard had 22 points and eight rebounds as the 19th-ranked Sun Devils defeated Jackson State 81-60 on Thursday night, despite fouling out with 4:10 to play.
Harden has been one of the nation’s hotter players, earning Pac-10 player-of-the-week honors each of the last two weeks.
Garrison Johnson scored 21 points and Grant Maxey added 15 for Jackson State (1-7), which missed its first nine 3-point shots and finished 2-of-16 from beyond the arc.
This was the eighth straight road game for the weary Tigers, who move on to Lawrence, Kan., to face Kansas on Saturday. The Tigers won’t play at home until Jan. 10—their 14th game of the season.
“We played decent,” Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson said. “Our legs are tired. We’ve been on the road all year long.
“There are times that we played with them. But they’re a better team than we are.”
The Sun Devils wasted little time taking command against the overmatched Tigers. ASU led 17-14 when Pendergraph scored to launch a 14-0 run, with Harden scoring the last eight points.
The Tigers didn’t go quietly. Down 16 at the half, Jackson State began to rally after Harden went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the second half.
The Tigers pulled within 11 points with 13:41 remaining. But Pendergraph dunked on an alley-oop pass from Derek Glasser, then blocked a shot at the other end, and the Sun Devils cruised from there, even with Harden on the bench for most of the second half because of the trouble.
“I think it was a positive that we responded the way we did,” ASU coach Herb Sendek said. “But our guys still know that we’re better with James, and that didn’t go away because we increased the lead for a few minutes tonight when he was in foul trouble.”
The Sun Devils host Nebraska on Sunday, and unlike Jackson State, the Cornhuskers won’t be a gimme.