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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils fall below .500 with home loss to USC

Short-handed Sun Devils struggle

NCAA Basketball: USC at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since March 2017, Arizona State men’s Basketball fell below a .500 win percentage. The Sun Devils trailed big early and didn’t complete the comeback, as they fell to the USC Trojans, 73-64.

Arizona State (4-5, 1-2 Pac-12) were still without Remy Martin, Jalen Graham, Taeshon Cherry, and Jaelen House, and only carried nine available players for the second straight game.

USC (8-2, 3-1) completed the desert sweep on Saturday, following a victory in Tucson over Arizona on Thursday. It marks the first time since the 1984-85 season that the Trojans have swept both Arizona schools on the road.

Andy Enfield’s squad got out of the gate quick, gaining a 32-16 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Sun Devils responded with a 14-0 run, led by senior graduate transfer, Holland Woods. ASU closed the half on a 16-4 run.

Woods scored 11 of the 16 Sun Devil points to close the first half, cutting the Trojan lead to four points, 36-32, at halftime.

The second half was close throughout, with the Sun Devils gaining their lone lead of the game with 7:03 remaining off of a Woods layup.

However, foul trouble came back to haunt Bobby Hurley’s squad for the second straight game, as four starters collected four fouls.

The Trojans regained their lead with under three minutes and with clutch free-throws down the home stretch, USC was able to hold on and get the win.

Standout freshman forward, Evan Mobley, had a career day. He posted 19 points off 5-for-7 shooting, and career-highs with 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Mobley’s older brother, Isaiah, recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards, and guards Tahj Eaddy and Drew Peterson also scored in double-figures.

For ASU, Woods led the team in scoring with 18 points. Three other Sun Devils scored in double-figures with Alonzo Verge (17 points), Marcus Bagley (11 points), and Josh Christopher (11 points) all contributing on the offensive end.

The difference in the game came down to free throws and rebounding. USC shot over 81 percent (26-32) from the charity stripe, compared to ASU’s 62.5 percent (15-24). Verge shot 7-for-8 from the free-throw line with all other players combining to shoot 8-for-16.

For the eighth consecutive game, the Sun Devils lost the rebounding battle. On Saturday, they were out rebounded by the Trojans 50-30, including a 13-6 margin on the offensive glass.

Arizona State continues to struggle at Desert Financial Arena. After winning its home opener against Houston Baptist, the Sun Devils have now lost four straight games at home.

They are also currently on a three-game skid dating back to their home loss against University of Texas El-Paso on December 16.

Hurley and Co. look to get back to full strength this week as they hit the road to take on No. 17 Oregon Thursday Night and Oregon State on Saturday. Thursday’s game against the Ducks starts at 7 p.m. local time on ESPN.