Pac-12 Conference counterparts seeking NCAA Tournament resume wins both look to bounce back on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz., where Arizona State hosts Southern California.
Arizona State (15-4, 6-2 Pac-12) gave up a five-point lead more than halfway through the second half of Thursday’s matchup to determine first place in the league with No. 5 UCLA. The Sun Devils scored just seven points over the final 10-plus minutes, two points in the final 6:13 and none for the closing 3:36 in a 74-62 loss.
“(The Bruins) know how to turn it up a little bit down the stretch,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “But there were times when we missed guys that we should’ve made one more pass or a different pass and it wasn’t made against a defense like that. If there is an opening and someone is open, you better be able to find him.”
Hurley also noted the team’s 18 turnovers, which UCLA converted into 24 points. The Sun Devils came into Thursday’s matchup averaging fewer than 12 turnovers per game.
“We’ve shown that we can take care of the ball at a better clip,” Hurley said. “Some of the turnovers early can be attributed to just being excited to play, kind of anxious and maybe playing too quick.”
Although not a contest for first place, Saturday is again a high-stakes home game for the Sun Devils when looking toward a potential NCAA Tournament nod.
USC (13-6, 5-3) comes in seeking a high-profile win after dropping its third decision over the last five games on Thursday with an 81-66 setback at No. 11 Arizona.
The Trojans fell behind by a double-digit-point margin eight minutes into the game and never bridged the gap. USC made a woeful 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) shots from 3-point range and 24 of 65 (36.9 percent) from the floor overall.
“(Drew Peterson) didn’t shoot a great percentage (5 of 14) and it wasn’t his normal crisp, offensive self,” coach Andy Enfield said, according to 247Sports. “He’s so valuable to our offense and Boogie (Ellis) is the same, in the first half especially. We need our best offensive players to play well, especially on the road.”
Both USC and Arizona State rank in the top 10 nationally defending 2-point attempts, allowing 41.5 and 42.5 percent, respectively. Each team features some of the conference’s top shot-blockers with USC’s Joshua Morgan and Arizona State’s Warren Washington.
Both have also endured inconsistencies on offense. Arizona State is shooting 32.6 percent from 3-point range for the season, while USC is at 31.4 percent. The Trojans are also committing turnovers on 19.3 percent of possessions, per KenPom.com metrics.
–Field Level Media