USC Holds Off Arizona State For Bounce Back Win
The Trojans almost gave it away late, but are now 2–1 in Pac-12 play.
USC came into Thursday night looking for a much needed victory and morale boost after their 22-point collapse in their loss to Washington.
Having left that game due to an ankle injury, Julian Jacobs started and led the team with 15 points on the night. The junior also added four rebounds and five assists, as he was able to propel the team to the necessary victory.
“I’m definitely going to get some ice after this,” said Jacobs after the game.
After Arizona State scored the first points of the game, USC’s shooting propelled them to an 11–0 run to open things up early. The Trojans got things going from deep early as Katin Reinhardt and Bennie Boatwright hit early splashes from downtown. USC would end up hitting 44% from deep on the night.
Speaking of Boatwright, the freshman was outstanding in the first half pacing all scorers with 10 points. The 6-foot-10 freshman, who certainly doesn’t play like one, was 2-for-3 from three.
While the Trojans were cooking offensively shooting 51 percent from the field at the half, it was their defense—that held the Sun Devils to 32 percent —which helped them hold a 35–25 lead at the break. USC blocked six shots, and were able to make the Sun Devils uncomfortable in their offensive flow.
The half also featured a gorgeous one-handed dunk from Chimezie Metu that brought the house down.
“I saw an arm about two feet above the rim. That’s all I saw.” — Coach Andy Enfield on Metu’s dunk.
“It’s absolutely contagious,” said Jacobs after the game about USC’s abundance of Sports Center-quality dunks. The dunks are indeed contagious, but so is the positive energy on this team, and they would need plenty of it to close out the Sun Devils.
Despite USC holding a 56–41 lead well into the second half, Arizona State came roaring back thanks to some tough shots and costly turnovers from Andy Enfield’s club. ASU suddenly had the ball down two with only 1:14 remaining.
But at the end of the day basketball remains a make or miss sport, which, on this night, led to an exhilarating finish that bordered on straight hilarity.
Arizona State proceeded to miss on three straight possessions, with no timeouts in between, and USC got out in transition after every miss, converting two lay ups and a dunk uncontested. The ASU threat of a comeback was no more in the span of less than what seemed like a minute.
In the end, the Trojans closed it out in emphatic fashion to win 75–65, a margin of victory they likely deserved.
The team is now 13–3 on the season, already surpassing their win total from last year’s campaign.
Enfield gave credit to Arizona State after the game for being a tough opponent, but thought his team was only “okay” on this given night. If that is just a portion of what USC is capable of, then their match with ranked Arizona this Saturday should provide a great test.
USC will have a couple days to rest and get ready for the big matchup even though they’re not looking it as a daunting task.
“Each game is tough. They put on jerseys just like us. Put underwear on just like us … We feel like we’re capable of winning this league.” — said Jacobs after the game.
The Trojans and Wildcats will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday night. USC will be after its biggest win under Coach Enfield and Arizona will be looking to bounce back from a buzzer beating loss to Bryce Alford and UCLA.