USC survives late Arizona State surge for 77-69 win on the road
Vince Iwuchukwu scored in double figures for the first time as a Trojan, Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson were rolling, and it looked like USC was going to run away from Arizona State Saturday evening for a comfortable win.
Then the Trojans tried as hard as possible to give the game away over the final five minutes. Andy Enfield’s crew survived, though, and walked out of Tempe with a 77-69 win and a weekend split in Arizona.
It’s a major victory for the Trojans, who had lost three of their last five. The Sun Devils went into Thursday riding a four-game winning streak and sitting second in the Pac-12. The Bruins dropped ASU on Thursday, and USC moved into a tie with the Arizona schools with the victory Saturday night.
ASU had a 4-2 lead 79 seconds into the game. USC led the rest of the way.
A 15-4 run over the span of five minutes saw the Trojans surge out ahead, where they stayed. Everyone made contributions in the opening frame. Four different USC played scored at least eight points to help the Trojans head to the locker room with a 43-33 lead.
ASU center Warren Washington feasted in the first half — 11 points, 5-of-7 shooting — but USC found just as much success inside on the other end. The 3s weren’t falling, but USC shot 11-for-19 inside the arc and got to the free throw line for 12 first-half attempts.
USC came firing out of the halftime break — a triple from Ellis and a pair of buckets from Peterson — to push the lead to 17 early. The margin grew to as many as 24 points following a fastbreak dunk from Ellis.
BOOGIE BRINGING THE HOUSE DOWN❗️
📱: https://t.co/E08qPhObrA pic.twitter.com/0lncoe24oS
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) January 22, 2023
But that proved to be USC’s final basket of the night.
ASU closed on a 16-0 run to make things awfully uncomfortable for the Trojan faithful. Washington scored 10 of his game-high 21 points during the stretch. USC didn’t help, missing each of its final four shots.
The Trojans only had four shot attempts over the final 4:51. ASU turned up the pressure and forced eight Trojan turnovers during the stretch. USC finished with 18 turnovers in the game, which led to 25 ASU points.
A 24-point hole was just too big, and there was just too little time for the Sun Devils to complete the comeback.
Peterson finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He shot 7-for-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Ellis added 18 points. Tre White and Iwuchukwu each added 12 points. Iwuchukwu, who just made his season debut on Jan. 12, played double-digit minutes for the second consecutive game as he starts to find his footing.
The talented freshman missed preseason camp and the start of the season after collapsing during summer conditioning last year. He flashed Saturday night in a major way, connecting on five of his eight attempts while grabbing five boards and blocking a shot.
Desmond Cambridge Jr. was the only other Sun Devil to score in double figures. He had 17 points to go with four boards and three assists, but he took 16 shots and 11 triples to get there.
USC (14-6, 6-3 Pac-12) is back in action at home next Thursday when it hosts No. 5 UCLA (6 p.m. PT, ESPN2).
Arizona State (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12) heads to Washington next Thursday to take on the Huskies at 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU.