No. 15 USC shakes off horrid start, throttles short-handed Arizona State squad 78-56
After roughly 14 minutes of fiddling around with Arizona State in the first half, USC locked in and ran away.
Led by 16 points from Drew Peterson and a combined 24 from its dynamic duo in the frontcourt—Chevez Goodwin and Isaiah Mobley—the Trojans dominated the second half against a severely short-handed Sun Devil side and picked up win No. 17 on the season with a 78-56 victory.
Arizona State was missing head coach Bobby Hurley and guard Jay Heath (9.9 points per game) due to suspension, and was limited to only seven scholarship players available. But the Sun Devils actually opened things up Monday night with a 22-10 lead over the 15th-ranked Trojans inside the Galen Center.
With fans back in the stands for the first time in over a month, it was the sputtering Sun Devils that had more energy. For the first 10 or so minutes, ASU was outworking USC. USC missed 15 of its first 18 shots on the evening and committed eight turnovers in the game’s first 10 minutes.
And then it was like a switch flipped. USC started working for open shots on offense and mixing coverages on defense. It closed the final six minutes of the first half on a 21-2 run and took a 31-24 lead into the halftime break.
Simple stuff, too. USC started moving and passing, driving and kicking, attacking and forcing defenders to commit and then finding the open man. It hit four straight triples to get the run off the ground, all of which were assisted on. Arizona State opened the action looking to pack the paint and keep USC from dumping it down to its forwards on the blocks, but once USC got the floor moving things started to open up.
At the other end, USC mixed in zone for a few possessions before going back to man; it mixed pick-and-roll coverages and Arizona State looked noticeably out of sorts as it started settling for low-leverage jumpers.
It was all USC in the second half.
From the six-minute mark in the first half through the seven-minute mark in the second half—19 minutes of game clock—USC outscored Arizona State 53-17.
Too much size for USC and too much talent. Only three Sun Devil players hit multiple shots from the field. Guard Marreon Jackson led the way with 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting.
For USC, four different Trojans scored in double-digits. Drew Peterson led the way with 16 points on a hot 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Goodwin had 12 points, eight boards, and two assists. Mobley had 12 points, seven boards, two assists, and a steal. Max Agbonkpolo added 12 points and six boards. After all those misses to begin the game, USC closed with makes on 24 of its final 41 shot attempts (59%).
The Trojans held an opponent under 40% shooting for the 15th time this season and dominated the glass, 49-24.
After suffering its first two losses of the season in a span of five days two weeks ago, USC has rebounded well. The Trojans (17-2, 7-2 Pac-12) have now won three straight. They’ll host Stanford on Thursday, with tip-off set for 8 p.m. PT.
Arizona State (6-11, 2-5 Pac-12) is off until Saturday when it faces No. 3 Arizona in Tucson. Tip-off for that one is set for 11:30 a.m. PT on CBS.