-- BREAKING IT DOWN --
Key moment(s): Drainage. With 6:27 remaining in the first half, USC freshman Nikola Jovanovic was fouled and sent to the line. He made the first free throw to trim Arizona State's lead to 22-19. In the next 2:06, the Sun Devils lead jumped from 3 to 13 behind a 10-0 spurt that saw Jermaine Marshall and Jahii Carson both knock down triples. Marshall and Carson's shots were the first of five straight made three-point attempts by ASU to close out the first half and give Arizona State a 44-28 lead that USC never threatened.
Second-Half Surge? Denied! The Trojans came out of the halftime locker room with renewed energy and focus. A pair of Julian Jacobs' buckets and two free throws from Byron Wesley to start the half trimmed ASU's lead down to 10 points. Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek had seen enough. He called for a 30-second timeout and chided his team's early performance in the second half. The Sun Devils responded with a 9-1 run that pushed the lead to 18. The closest USC got afterward was 64-50 with 9:18 remaining.
Player of the Game: Byron Wesley. Since Byron Wesley was the only USC player to reach double figures in any category, he went ahead and did it in a pair of categories. Wesley finished with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and made six of his seven free throws (the rest of the Trojans were 7-for-18). He also grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds.
Here is Wesley after the game:
Most Spectacular Play(s): Opening Points. USC's best highlight of the night came on its first points (for the second game in a row). Carson drove into the lane and tried to shoot a floater over Omar Oraby, but Oraby erased the shot (one of his five blocks) and the Trojans were off to the races. J.T. Terrell fired the ball ahead to Wesley, who attacked the rim for an old-fashioned three-point play. Defense turning into offense just how head coach Andy Enfield wants.
Unsung Hero: Arizona Wildcats. On a night when USC played poorly, there really wasn't a player worthy of being the "Unsung Hero." One of the loudest cheers from the Galen Center actually came thanks to the Trojans' next opponent when it was announced No. 1 Arizona had defeated UCLA, 79-75.
"Step It Up:" Flop Central. It can't be confirmed that Sendek took the Sun Devils to the theater department for a practice earlier this year, but it sure looked like it Thursday night. On multiple occasions, ASU players went sprawling backwards like they had been hit in the face with a two-by-four. Even worse than the flopping was the referees believing it. The Galen Center crowd of 3,623 even decided to feign some interest and boo the refs several times after calls.
Key stat(s): 18. Carson scored 18 points in the game. Arizona State is now 11-0 when he scores 16 or more points.
13-for-25. USC only got over 50 percent from the charity stripe on its final possession when freshman Khalil Dukes was fouled and made both his free throws. It was the Trojans worst free throw percentage (52 percent) this season.
5-2. Byron Wesley scored 20+ points for the seventh time this season (and fifth time in six games). The Trojans were 5-0 when he hit the 20-point mark, but have now dropped the past two games despite Wesley's offensive output.
0-for-9. USC's two best perimeter threats, J.T. Terrell and Pe'Shon Howard, each shot 3-for-13 in the game. In the second half, they combined to shoot 0-for-9.
60. The Trojans scored only 60 points -- their lowest point total of the season.
36.1. USC also produced its worst shooting performance this season, making only 36.1 percent of its shots (22-for-61).
Quote of the Night:
"We're a streaky shooting team. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. We need guys to be in rhythm and open. We took good shots and we missed good shots. We played well in the first half; we played hard. But we were not making shots and that hurt us." -- USC head coach Andy Enfield
Where They Stand: USC has put itself in an early Pac-12 hole. While it isn't inconceivable for the Trojans to still make a run in conference play, they are now facing a potential 0-3 start with top-ranked and undefeated Arizona (16-0, 3-0) coming to the Galen Center on Sunday at 6 p.m. PT.
While there are several variables that would have to be factored in, for USC to potentially receive an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the Trojans would probably have to finish above .500 in conference play. If USC loses to Arizona to fall to 0-3, that gives them the task of going 10-5 the rest of the way in order to get above .500 in Pac-12 play.
Spotted: The Oraby family made the trip across the world from Egypt to see Omar bang and battle down low. Maybe that was a part of his frustration with the referees, who kept him in foul trouble in the first half.
Also cheering on the Trojans Thursday night was last season's leading scorer Eric Wise. The forward was drafted by the NBA Developmental League's Iowa Energy, but played sparingly in only two games before he was deactivated and waived. Wise said he doesn't know exactly where he'll be playing next, but he was looking forward to the prospect of playing overseas.