Free Throws Doom Devils Against USC

The starting line-up was different, but the end result was the same. ASU hung around long enough to make the ending of Saturday's game with USC interesting, but once again fell short 81-73 in front of 7,686 at Wells Fargo Arena.

The game started off in a very promising fashion, with Chad Prewitt hitting a long range bomb less than 40 seconds into the game to give the Devils a 3-0 lead. The Trojans responded by hitting the glass hard and quickly built a 22-9 advantage. The Devils fought hard to close the gap and were down by only two at half, 41-39. Although Awvee Storey replaced him in the starting line-up, Kenny Crandall came into the game early in the first half and helped ASU fight back from the early deficit by pouring in 11 of his 12 points before the intermission.

In the second half, the Sun Devils and Trojans began the period by trading the lead back and forth. The Devils led by as many as three points, but the Trojans finally grabbed the lead for good and maintained a ten-point advantage with just over five minutes remaining in the game. The Devils once again showed their resolve and climbed to within three points, 71-68, on Tommy Smith's jumper with 40 seconds left in the game. Down the stretch, USC did not cooperate by missing free throws and the Devils did not create enough turnovers or hit enough long range bombs to get any closer.

Free throw shooting once again killed ASU. The Devils actually enjoyed an advantage in free throw attempts, but could only connect on 52.9% of their shots from the charity stripe. The abysmal 18 for 34 mark from the line proved to be the difference as another potential upset victory slipped away

Chad Prewitt had another steady game. He posted a double-double by pouring in 21 points and grabbing 12 boards. Tommy Smith had a strong game for ASU - especially in the second half - and also earned a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also swatted away three shots. Curtis Millage did not play to his potential for ASU. He was only able to drop in six points and hurt the Devils with six turnovers against USC's pressure. Jason Braxton also turned the ball over more than usual and ended with four of the Sun Devils' 19 turnovers. Sam Clancy and Brandon Granville powered the Trojan attack. Clancy scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Granville dropped in 21 points, including a perfect 11 for 11 mark from the line. David Bleuthenthal and Erick Craven also contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively.

In the end, as the Sun Devil fans left the game, they had to be wondering when this team would actually win one of these "big" games. These close losses against ranked opponents are getting very predictable. Hopefully a win over the Wildcats next Wednesday will be the opportunity in which the team seizes a victory over a ranked opponent and learns how to be successful against the quality teams of the Pac 10.

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