Balanced scoring and continued strong defense have put the USC Trojans in front of the ASU Sun Devils 23-16 at halftime Saturday night at the Galen Center.
In the first half, USC shot 41 percent from the field and held Arizona State to 30 percent shooting. Point guard Mike Gerrity led the Trojans with five points on 2-of-3 shooting. ASU's Jamelle McMillan had a game-high eight points.
The Trojans were down 12-10 with seven minutes left in the first half before going on a 13-1 run — capped by a dramatic Gerrity fallaway jumper that had the crowd roaring —to take a commanding 23-13 lead with a minute to play. ASU coach Herb Sendek drew up an impressive set play in a timeout, and McMillan hit an open three to close the half.
Both USC and ASU have had trouble holding on to the ball; the teams have combined for 17 turnovers. But USC has turned eight ASU turnovers into 13 points. The Sun Devils have turned USC's nine turnovers into no points.
USC coach Kevin O'Neill did a bit more substituting than usual in the first half, including taking out Gerrity with 9:51 left and leaving him out for nearly three minutes. But backup point guard Donte Smith made him pay on one sequence with a bonehead shot attempt at the offensive end and casual defense that allowed McMillan to hit another open three.
The Alex Stepheson watch? Four points, four rebounds, and only one foul.