TEMPE - Back to the bracketology bubble goes Arizona State.
The Sun Devils (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12) dropped their second home game of the weekend with a 77-69 loss to USC (14-6, 6-3 Pac-12) at Desert Financial Arena Saturday night.
“I thought it was flat-out embarrassing,” center Warren Washington said. “We embarrassed our fans. We embarrassed ourselves. We embarrassed the community. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about it. It’s just embarrassing.
In the first half, the ASU offense worked through Washington (21 points). He led all ASU scorers by a wide margin with 11 first-half points. When the Sun Devils scored, it was mostly in the paint.
Big first half from Warren Washington including this dunk to start the game. Can he help lead ASU to a comeback victory in the second half? @5warrenw— State of the Sun Devils (@AZSportsDevils) January 22, 2023
️ @JGSports_6 pic.twitter.com/UuEYLMcxcZ
At halftime, the stat sheet projected a close game. ASU’s 41% on shooting was not too far off from USC’s 45%. They were within four total rebounds of each other. Neither team seemed to be able to get into a rhythm behind the three-point line, with both teams combining for a 23.8% rate.
“In the first half, if you looked at the stat sheet, the stat sheets were virtually identical,” coach Bobby Hurley said. “There were 14 made field goals by each team. Each team had a very similar number of rebounds, assists and turnovers. The one difference was 12 free throws to four. We were down ten and -9 on free throws at home.”
It was at the free-throw line where the Trojans gained a slight edge. By the half, USC was a cool 12-for-12 on free throws. ASU took just two trips to the stripe, sinking just 3-of-4 freebies.
The 43-33 deficit was gloomy, but manageable. When USC opened the second half on a 7-0 run, things started looking bleaker. The subsequent efforts by ASU made it clear that it had left its best basketball in Oregon.
By the game’s conclusion, USC’s 49.1 field-goal percentage was drastically greater than ASU’s 38.5%.
The Sun Devils were walking a tightrope in the first half that sent them plummeting into an abyss of USC easy dunks and layups in the second. But after being down over 20 points, ASU actually finished the half on a 16-0 run. Too little, too late.
With Saturday’s loss, ASU falls to No. 4 in the Pac-12 standings with Arizona and Utah jumping the Sun Devils. USC has now won six-in-a-row against ASU.