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Game Recap: ASU Falls Short in Upset Bid vs. USC

The Sun Devils returned to Desert Financial Arena in a Thursday night shootout with the USC Trojans. Here's how the action panned out:

The No. 19 USC Trojans strolled into town just over a week after dismantling the Arizona State Sun Devils 78-56 on Jan. 24. 

Late Thursday evening, the Sun Devils had an opportunity to take revenge. 

Despite leading for the majority of the second half, Arizona State was unable to hang on in a tightly contested game that saw USC emerge late in a 58-53 victory. 

The Sun Devils are now riding a three-game losing streak having lost six of their last seven games. 

Despite the loss, Arizona State played a ranked USC squad tough until the very end. ASU is now 0-8 in the last eight games played against ranked opponents, with the last victory coming in February of 2020.

Here's how the action panned out in Arizona State's first of three home games at Desert Financial Arena:

First Half Recap


G DJ Horne
G Jay Heath
F Jalen Graham
F Kimani Lawrence
F Alonzo Gaffney

Guard Marreon Jackson was left on the bench once again, as the Sun Devils opted for three forwards in their opening rotation. 

USC began the night by going on a 10-2 run, carrying that lead into the first media timeout at 15:51. ASU began the night making only one of its first eight shots. Trojans forward Isaiah Mobley got off to a hot start with five points. 

However, Arizona State fought through its initial struggle with an 11-1 run, which spanned just over six minutes. The Trojans shot 1-of-11 during ASU's run, seeing their lead dwindle down to 17-13 at the 6:39 media timeout. 

After that timeout, ASU once again went cold, missing seven straight shots. 

More important, Horne got into early foul trouble and collected his third foul with 4:14 left in the first half. 

The Trojans carried a slim 26-24 lead into the break, leading the entire first half despite Arizona State cutting the lead to one possession three times in the final 10 minutes. 

The team total numbers for both teams were similar in the first 20 minutes of play in terms of three-point shooting (25% each) and total field-goal percentage (ASU 25.7%, USC 26.7%). 

The first half was the first time USC had shot under 30% in any half this season.

Second-Half Recap

Arizona State got its first lead of the game via a Kimani Lawrence layup in the opening minutes of the second half. 

It was the Sun Devils who dictated play in the second half, as ASU saw its lead grow to as many as eight in the opening 12 minutes of play. 

The highlight during the opening play in the second half came via a three-pointer from forward Jamiya Neal, who converted only his sixth shot from downtown of the season to give the Sun Devils a 38-31 lead. 

However, USC eventually battled back and went on an 11-4 run to tie the game at 42-42 with 6:03 left. 

Despite tying the game two more times within the next three minutes, the Trojans were never able to overtake Arizona State's lead thanks to Lawrence accounting for ASU's three-of-four buckets to keep USC at bay. 

The game went down to the wire, with Mobley hitting an open three-pointer to give USC a 49-48 advantage with 2:06 remaining. 

Forward Jalen Graham, who has hit key shots for the Sun Devils recently in important moments, answered with a three-point play after fighting through contact and finished a tough basket, putting ASU back in the driver's seat at 51-49. 

Mobley matched Graham's bucket on the other end with a great post play of his own, tying the game at 51-51 under the basket with 58 seconds remaining. 

After a fairly head-scratching foul by guard Jay Heath, USC guard Boogie Ellis sank a pair of free throws to put the Trojans back into the lead at 53-51. 

Ellis later finished off the Sun Devils with a total of seven points in the final minute of play, including a powerful dunk as time expired to give USC a 58-53 victory. 

In the last five minutes, Horne's missed all of the four shots he attempted. 

Stat Leaders

Points: Graham (19)
Assists: Jackson (5)
Rebounds: Lawrence (8) 

What's Next

Arizona State has no time for rest, as the No. 3 UCLA Bruins are set to visit Desert Financial Arena on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. Arizona time on ESPN2.