"No turnovers in the first half, four for the game – was a real difference maker for us. It was a good team win. I really could go down the roster and talk about each guy's key contributions. I thought it was a really hard fought, physical conference game and we're fortunate to win a close one."
No. 18 Arizona State (20-5, 9-4 Pac-10) realized from the opening tip that this would be a challenging contest. USC (15-9, 6-6), just like they did in their previous meeting with the Sun Devils clamped down on James Harden, who scored just two points in the first half.
The hosts enjoyed their first lead of the game, 12-10, only with 8:07 left in the period. Thanks to Jeff Pendergraph's ten first half points, and Ty Abbot's seven points ASU was able to build up its lead and Abbot's follow-up dunk on a missed three-point shot by Derek Glasser ended the half on a high note and a 29-20 advantage.
The second stanza opened with an 18-8run by the Trojans to give them a 38-37 edge at the 12:36 mark. A Sendek timeout helped his squad effectively re-group and record its first double digit lead of the night, 51-40 with 6:05 left in the contest. ASU's second half offensive outburst was in large part thanks to Glasser 12, Harden's 11, and Jamelle McMillan's nine points – all scored beyond the arc.
The visitors brought down the deficit to 57-51 with just over two minutes left. With 47.9 seconds remaining in the game USC's Daniel Hackett was called for a charging foul as he ran into McMillan. Official Randy McCall signaled the basket by Hackett good and no foul, but was ultimately overruled by lead official David Hall.
This sequence of events caused a severe outburst by Trojans' skipper Tim Floyd, who had a heated confrontation with the both officials as he walked onto the court. This led to two technical fouls and subsequent ejection of Floyd. Glasser scored on three of the ensuing free throws and added another trio of charity stripe makes in ASU's next two possessions.
Harden capped off the scoring with two free throws of his own, as ASU completed a home sweep of the Los Angeles schools for the first time since 2002-03 season.
Glasser led all scorers with 18 points, and had five assists with no turnovers. Harden had 13 on 5-6 shooting, and Pendergraph had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. McMillan scored 11 points off the bench. USC was led by DeMar DeRozan's 16 points.
The Sun Devils lost the rebound battle 28-25, but had 17 assists to the Trojans' 11 and limited the visitors to just 2-13 three point baskets.
ASU will end its three-game homestand with another great challenge, a meeting with archrival Arizona, who are in the midst of a seven-game win streak. Tip-off is Sunday at 8 p.m.
"When you look at our conference from top to bottom…right now Pac-10 basketball is clearly among the best conferences in the country," said Sendek. "The Pac-10 doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody.
"Right now not only is Arizona playing as well as anybody in our conference, but they are also as a result playing as well as anybody in the country. So we're gonna have our hands full. They clearly elevated their level of play and have hit stride."