Following their worst loss of the season, 107-73, at the hands of the UCLA Bruins, the Trojans challenged themselves to amp up their efforts on the defensive end of the court.
The opening few minutes of play were tight, but once USC started down its usual path of turnover-filled basketball and poor shot selection, the Arizona State Sun Devils (13-3, 2-1) ended up rolling the Trojans (9-6, 0-2), 79-60, Thursday night at the Galen Center.
"When you play that well defensively, that kind of energy, you should have the lead," Enfield said of his team's first-half performance. "We missed about eight or nine very easy shots and it cost us on the offensive end."
After battling back and forth for the opening 12 minutes, USC trailed 17-15 at that point. But the balanced Sun Devils attack put on an impressive display in the closing minutes to take a 44-28 halftime lead.
"That was a tough game for us," Enfield said. "We played hard. Give ASU credit though, they played well and beat us."
Byron Wesley carried the load offensively for the Trojans, finishing the night with 20 points while grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds completing his fourth double-double of the season.
"We need to pick it up and play better," Wesley said regarding his teams struggles in Pac-12 play. "The crazy thing is we've been practicing the best we have all year lately."
Omar Oraby and D.J. Haley did not hold their own down low against 7'2" adversary Jordan Bachynski, who finished the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds in quite a dominant performance on the inside. Oraby did finish with more blocks on the night than Bachynski (5-2), who leads the nation in blocked shots and has actually out-blocked 298 NCAA teams this season.
The second half did not fare much better for the Trojans. To sum it up in one play, Jahii Carson was trapped into the corner and fired a desperation attempt from the far baseline. Instead of grabbing the rebound and pushing the fast break, Jordan Bachynski reached right over 6'3" Pe'Shon Howard for an easy tip-in bucket.
"I'm proud of how the team came together in practice the past few days," Enfield said about his team's effort and confidence moving forward. "We're staying positive with them. I love coaching them. It's frustrating when you play hard and don't win."
The Trojans will now welcome the undefeated and top-ranked Arizona Wildcats, who just defeated UCLA 79-75 from Pauley Pavilion. Last season, upset-minded USC defeated Arizona at the Galen Center. Sunday's game will tip off at 6 p.m. PT and should be packed with rowdy Arizona fans and the USC student section might have actual students in it with classes beginning Monday.