Trojans Topple Devils

ASU's defense has been stout for most of the season and has carried the Sun Devils to an impressive record. That defense stifled USC for most of the first half and compensated for the team's offensive struggles and ten turnovers during that period. Yet, when the Trojans were able to crack ASU's defense the game's fate was sealed as USC scored 42 points in the second half en route to a 61-49 win.

USC (11-5, 2-2 Pac-10) made just one field goal in nearly the first 11 minutes of the contest, but Arizona State (14-3, 3-2) didn't take full advantage of it, and was up just 13-9 at the 8:14 mark of the first half. James Harden was held scoreless in the first half, and scored on just four free throws in the second half.

Rihards Kuksiks on the other hand, displayed some hot shooting and scored on a trio of consecutive beyond the arc shots to expand the Devils' lead to 24-14 with 4:31 left in the half.

ASU reverted back to their offensive struggles and scored just two points the rest of the period. The half ended on a Taj Gibson dunk which was ultimately a prelude to the Trojan onslaught in the second stanza.

Two three pointers by Dwight Lewis gave the hosts their first lead of the game, 29-28, at the 16:44 mark. Harden finally sneaked into the scoring column with two free throws made, but USC tied the game at 40 apiece with7:28 left in the contest.

Then came the decisive stretch of the game where the Trojans went on a 11-2 run, capped off by a long range basket of its leading scorer tonight, DeMar DeRozan, who made it 51-42 with 4:34 left, and the hosts coasted the rest of the way onto their impressive victory.

Kuksiks paced ASU with 16 points, but his four three-pointers all came in the first half. Derek Glasser and Jeff Pendergraph had 13 points each. Harden who was 0-9 from the field tonight and missed his first three free throws, tied Pendergraph for the team lead in rebounding with seven.

ASU was 33.3% from the field and 12-20 from the charity stripe. They were dead even with USC at 29 rebounds each. DeRozan led all scorers with 22 points.

A tough road stretch continues for the maroon and gold as they face UCLA in Pauley Pavilion on Saturday at 1:45. With their confidence surely shot right now, Herb Sendek's team will have to regroup in a hurry and try a salvage their L.A. road trip with what would be an improbable victory.

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