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ASU Men’s Basketball: Sun Devils squeak by short-handed Trojans

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)


Although they had one of their worst shooting nights all year long, the Arizona State Sun Devils escape with a win against USC 64 to 59. Junior guard Gerry Blakes led the way in the scoring column for ASU with 12 points, and sophomore guard Kahlil Dukes had 18 for the Trojans.

In a half where there was an equal amount of turnovers than shots, ASU somehow held the lead after the first twenty minutes, 27-24.

The offensive struggle was present right at opening tip-off and carried all the way through the first half, with USC shooting 33 percent from the floor at the five minute mark, and the Sun Devils shooting 29 percent. Shooting troubles weren’t the only bug both teams seemed to catch from the get go, as USC had seven turnovers and ASU had eight.

A lonely positive for the Sun Devils in the first half was their free-throw shooting, making eight of nine. Those extra eight points surely made a difference in the scoring total in the first half as the Trojans only went to the line once and made one of two.

The only sign of consistency on the offensive end before halftime came from Blakes who scored 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting, including two three pointers.

ASU fell behind 40-35 with 14 minutes remaining in the second half largely thanks to the balanced scoring of the Trojans, with all but one player that entered the game making at least two field goals.

Dukes stepped up big time for the Trojans despite not playing more than 12 minutes in a game all year long. Dukes finished with 18 points.

At the 6:22 mark in the second half, USC had three players with three fouls and one with four, opening things up for Savon Goodman to trim the Trojan lead to six.

Despite only being down by six with 3:33 remaining, he Sun Devils were still shooting only 30 percent from the floor and 17 percent from three.

With 1:56 remaining down by three, the Sun Devils got a triple to fall courtesy of freshman guard Tra Holder to tie that game and eventually lead to a USC timeout with 1:51 on the clock.

In the next ASU possession, a possession where any points would be acceptable for the struggling Sun Devils, senior forward Jonathan Gilling drilled a three with 41.5 seconds remaining to give ASU a three point lead.

Player of the game: Gerry Blakes

Blakes did it all for ASU tonight, leading in scoring with 12 points as well as bringing in eight rebounds. Blakes also energized the team with his on-ball defense and aggressiveness on both ends.

Stat of the night: 76.9 percent from the free throw line

USC only shot five free throws all game long, and that proved to be a huge key as to why ASU built their lead. The Sun Devils shot 19 more free throws than the Trojans, and they went 20-26 on the night.

Biggest Concern: Three-Point shooting

The Sun Devils shot 23 percent from beyond the arc and it really made a difference at the end of the game. This will likely be the only game where ASU shoots better at the free throw line than from three-point range all year long.

What’s Next?

ASU will travel to Salt Lake City to play Utah on Thursday.

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