By DAVID BRANDT Writer AP Sports
TEMPE, Ariz. – USC’s first 36 minutes on the basketball court were almost a forgettable Thursday night.
Judging by the way the series has played out in front of the Arizona State courts in recent years, they’re not particularly important anyway.
Boogie Ellis scored 21 points, including five last-minute free throws, to lift 19th USC past Arizona State, 58-53, and help the Trojans keep their pace in the Pac-12 race.
The last 12 matches between these teams in Tempe were all demarcated by 10 points or less. Some of them went down the whistle. This match was tight until the last minute, when Ellis continued to attack and push the Trojans to victory.
“You just put three or four minutes on the clock, put the tie on the board and we’ll be playing from there,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “That’s just the way it was. We are so lucky to win this game. ”
Trojans (19-3 final, 9-3 Pac-12) have won two in a row and five of their last six games. The Sun Devil has lost 4 matches in a row. Both teams struggled to shoot until the very last minute, when they swapped baskets with an empty shot.
Isaiah Mobley hit a three-pointer in the 1:57th minute to put USC ahead, 49-48, but ASU (6-13, 2-7) responded with a Jalen Graham foul while being fouled. . He takes the free throw to give the Sun Devils a 51-49 lead.
Mobley’s difficult shot from the post tied it 51-all with one minute left and Ellis hit a pair of free throws that gave USC a 53-51 lead with 46 seconds left. Ellis added three free throws to the next few properties and then added an exclamation point with a breakaway dot just before the whistle.
“We knew we were going to hit the big shots when we needed it,” Ellis said. “Overall, just trying to get the ball low against our big guys, trying to get close to the perimeter and fouling.”
USC made 25 free throws compared to 8 for ASU. Mobley finished with 12 points for the Trojan, while Drew Peterson had six points and 13 rebounds.
Arizona State took the lead when Kimani Lawrence made a substitution making the score 28-27 with 17:12 remaining. Sun Devils push their advantage to 40-32 with about 11 minutes left.
The Sun Devil is led by Graham with 19 points. Lawrence added 14. ASU only fired 3 for 21 from 3-point range.
ASU coach Bobby Hurley said: “It was there for us to perform. “We did our job on defense but we didn’t attack enough when they moved into an area.”
USC took a 10-2 lead in the first four minutes. The Trojans extended their advantage to 14-2 before surprisingly cold, missing nine shots in a row in a nearly six-minute run of goalless games.
“We got off to a good start,” said Enfield. “Then we stopped sharing the basketball, we had too many passes and made some tough shots. They played really well defensively, they were very aggressive. ”
That allowed Arizona State to get back into the game, but an ineffective attack kept the Sun Devils from taking the lead. USC won a 26-24 advantage after halftime.
USC shot just 27% before halftime and 30% overall (18 for 60) while Arizona State shot 26% in the first half and 32.8% overall (22 for 67).
USC must be happy to overcome the worst offensive record of the season. Ellis grew up in the last minutes.
Arizona State is competitive – especially on defense – but the lack of offense continues to be an issue. The Sun Devils entered the game with the worst attack in the Pac-12 and have not scored more than 56 points in the past three games.
USC plays at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday.
Arizona State is hosting UCLA #3 on Saturday.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/02/03/usc-survives-poor-shooting-to-beat-arizona-state/ USC survives poor shooting to beat Arizona State – San Bernardino Sun