USC: Carrick Felix

Basketball: Arizona State 62, USC 53

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
10:57
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- This one was bad.

Bad, in that it was against a 4-9 Arizona State team with just one previous win over a major-conference squad. Bad, in that the Sun Devils played the game with just six scholarship players and managed to post their best shooting day of the season and their best road shooting day in eight years. Bad, in that USC scored the fewest points anybody's scored against ASU all season.

And bad in terms of outcome, too. The Trojans lost 62-53 to the Sun Devils on Thursday at the Galen Center, falling to 5-11 on the season and 0-3 in Pac-12 conference play.

"Our defense was very suspect," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said afterward. "We didn't do the job we normally do to give ourselves a chance to win the game."

Thursday's loss was the Trojans' seventh in their last eight games. USC's 2011-2012 season is quickly getting out of hand.

"I actually felt like we've let a lot slip away," said USC forward Dewayne Dedmon, who had eight points and seven rebounds in Thursday's loss. "But today, especially."

Carrick Felix led Arizona State with a career-high 22 points in 39 minutes. Trent Lockett, playing point guard for the first time the Sun Devils were missing two point guards because of suspension, added 19 points and four assists. The two combined to shoot a remarkable 15-of-21 -- 71 percent -- as ASU shot 61 percent as a team.

"Sure, they made some shots," O'Neill said. "But it's our job to make them miss."

"The bottom line is, if you're gonna let someone shoot 61 percent on your court, it's going to be hard to win."

Forward Aaron Fuller had a team-high 14 points for USC and guard Maurice Jones added 13, four assists and three steals.

As a team, the Trojans shot 38 percent from the field, their third straight under-40 display in Pac-12 play.

"That's not a recipe for success," O'Neill said. "That's a recipe for disaster."

Player of the game: There were no standout performances for the Trojans, but freshman guard Byron Wesley did put together a solid defensive game and double-digit offensive performance.

He finished with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists, although he did shoot just 5-of-15 from the field. One bright spot was his play on Felix, who he held to nine points in the second half after the ASU forward scored 13 points in the first half with Alexis Moore defending him.

"I thought he did a pretty good job," O'Neill said of Wesley's defense.

The 15 field-goal attempts were a career-high for Wesley, who had never attempted more than 11 in a college game.

Stat of the game: USC took 55 shots to Arizona State's 36 -- usually a great indicator of success.

But, while USC turned the ball over six times and forced 18 turnovers, the Trojans were so poor shooting the ball that they actually made fewer shots than the Sun Devils -- 21 to 22.

It was a statistical oddity.

"That's hard to figure," O'Neill said. "Any time you get 20 more shots than the opposition, you should have a great chance to win."

Quote of the game: "This isn't something that we're used to. This isn't something that we want. This isn't something that we want to be represented as, a team that plays hard but always comes up short. So we've gotta get back in the lab and do the little things so we can get over these humps." -- Moore

Moore, an 18-year-old freshman guard, has experienced losing like this before in his basketball career -- AAU ball growing up in Long Beach. But he said he refuses to accept it at this level, adding that the Trojans "have to win" their next game against Arizona.

USC is the only team in the Pac-12 still without a conference win.

Final notes: The Sun Devils played without three rotation players because reserve guard Chris Colvin and starters Keala King (Santa Ana Mater Dei) and Kyle Cain didn't make the trip to Los Angeles for "unacceptable conduct"...Because the game was not televised, the curtains at the north end of the Galen Center were open throughout the game, providing a view of the Downtown skyline...USC plays the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Galen.

Basketball: USC 62, Arizona State 46

February, 26, 2011
2/26/11
9:00
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- It's a phrase that hasn't been used much around the USC basketball program this season.

But, for once on Saturday, it actually applied to the situation: That was easy.

The Trojans (17-12, 9-7 in the Pac-10) easily handled conference bottom-dweller Arizona State in a Saturday mid-afternoon tilt at the Galen Center, topping the Sun Devils, 62-46, on Senior Day behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from star forward Nikola Vucevic, 15 from senior Alex Stepheson and increasingly stout defense.

It has become a pattern in recent games. 20-plus points from Vucevic, double-digit scoring from another player or two, this time Stepheson and Donte Smith, and tight on-the-ball defense spearheaded by stopper Marcus Simmons -- just like coach Kevin O'Neill is drawing it up. And O'Neill has been very pleased.

"We got the job done," the second-year coach said after Saturday's game. "I just liked the way we played, tone-wise, for most of the game."

ASU opened the game up to a 5-0 lead, but the outcome was never again in doubt after that. By the mid-point of the first half, USC had taken a six-point lead. By halftime, the Trojans led by 20, 38-18. And in the second half they stretched the lead out to as many as 26 points before letting up some late to account for the 16-point margin. The Sun Devils were overmatched.

"It's the eyeball test," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "When you look at them you see they have a team full of men. It's all really well put together and when they add in O'Neill to the mix with his coaching it becomes dangerous for other teams."

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