ASU's James Harden Excels and U of A's Chase Budinger Doesn't in the Devils' Victory Over the 'Cats

Arizona State's 68-56 win over the boys from Tucson in a Pac-10 tourney game that ended a few minutes ago can be attributed to one player's piss-poor performance: Arizona's Chase Budinger.

The highly touted Wildcats' forward played as soft as a cushy little pillow for the entire contest, finishing with just 8 points on 3-15 shooting. Budinger had all of three rebounds in 39 minutes of action here at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. So much for trying to impress the horde of NBA scouts on hand for the tourney.

To the contrary, Devils' star James Harden slipped in a cool 27 points to go along with eight rebounds in a performance that justified his recent choice as the conference Player of the Year.

The loss puts Arizona's remarkable 24-year run of NCAA tourney appearances in grave jeopardy. Depending what happens in the rest of the country over the next few days, the `Cats could well find themselves playing in the poor stepchild of post-season tournaments, the NIT (National Invitational Tournament).

Meanwhile, ASU is going dancing -- the only question is where.

The Sun Devils' big win was its fifth straight over Arizona, something that many in the state never expected to see in their lifetimes. ASU beat their rivals three times this season, and this one was the most convincing of them all.

ASU plays the winner of the Washington-Stanford game, which is about to tip off, in one of tomorrow night's semi-final matchups.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin