Saturday night's slugfest between USC and Arizona State was by all accounts an incredibly painful game to watch, as both teams shot under 35% from the field and registered well over ten turnovers. But in the end, it was still yet another victory for Kevin O'Neill and company, as the Trojans secured their eight consecutive win and improved to 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 2001-2002.
'SC was led by in large part by Marcus Johnson and Mike Gerrity, who each scored 12 points on a night when scoring was at a premium. The Trojans shot just 35.7% from the field and were held to their lowest point total of the season.
But luckily, they faced an Arizona State team that proved to be far worse offensively, as the Sun Devils posted an embarrassingly low 24.4% shooting percentage, while also tying their lowest offensive output ever in school history (a 69-37 loss to Minnesota in November of 1991).
ASU was completely innefective on the offensive end. No matter what lineup combination head coach Herb Sendek put out on the floor or what play he called, they struggled mightily. Their shooting was off. They took bad shots. They turned the ball over. Everything went wrong for the visiting Sun Devils. Their big five of Derek Glasser, Ty Abbott, Rihards Kuksiks, Victor Rudd and Trent Lockett, shot a combined 4-of-30 - well below their season average. In short, they sent back offensive basketball twenty years.
But that's what happens when you play the Kevin O'Neill-led Trojans. You're placed into situations offensively that make you incredibly uncomfortable, as the Trojans are relentless in putting pressure on guards and other ballhandlers. That style of defense forces players and teams to play at a certain pace they aren't comfortable at. Derek Glasser, who is regarded as one of the best points guards in the nation, was incredibly flustered by the Trojan D as evident by his one assist and 12.5% shooting from the field.
But the Trojans certainly aren't an offensive juggernaut. We know that and Kevin O'Neill knows that. So, it's not unheard of for them to appear this pedestrian on offense. But they are better than a 47-point scoring team. With an upcoming roadtrip to the Bay Area to face Stanford and California, they can't rely on that type of defensive performance to single handily carry them to victory once again. They need the offense to step up and shoulder some of the load. That doesn't mean for them to go and score 80 points, but they do need to become more efficient and finish with fewer turnovers. This team has certainly surpassed all expectations thus far, but if winning a Pac-10 championship still remains the primary goal, then there is still plenty of room for improvement.