Arizona State (10-5, 0-2 Pac-10) held USC (10-4 2-0) scoreless for nearly the first four minutes of the game. However, without the ability to knock down their outside shots the visitors couldn't pad their slim lead, which was never more than three points, in the early parts of the first half.
"Good looks were hard to come by," said Head Coach Herb Sendek.
Nonetheless, the Trojans, who shot just 35.7 percent on the night, didn't capture the lead for good until 5:14 left in the half, when Alex Stephenson made it 14-12. ASU scored just four points in the last 8:19 of the first half and trailed 23-16 after 20 minutes.
In the second stanza the Sun Devils made a concerted effort to rely less on their jump shot and penetrate the lane, namely with Abbott and Jamelle McMillan. Yet, ASU was never able to narrow the gap to less than three points.
"We were really trying to attack the paint," said Sendek on his team's offensive strategy in the second half. "I thought a few times we drew second defenders, we got in the lane. But we didn't have the presence to hit guys as they were open. We forced tough lane shots, rather than make each other better.
"I think that more than anything else stands out in my mind right now."
Demetrius Walker, who led the Sun Devils in scoring, had 10 of his 11 points in the last 7:54 minutes of the contest. However, USC's co-high scorer Marcus Johnson had eight of his 12 points down the stretch as well to keep ASU at bay and cause the maroon and gold to be swept in their first Pac-10 road trip of this season.
USC's Mike Gerrity also had 12 points, while ASU's McMillan had 10 points.
Surprisingly, ASU did hold its own on the glass as USC out rebounded ASU just 28-27. Yet, the Trojans had six blocks. The Sun Devils were 5-23 from beyond the arc, while the Trojans were 1-7 from that same distance.
"We just have to go back home and get two," Abbott commented. "It's never good to start 0-2, especially on the road. We just have to get back home and try to get some wins."
Thanks to Kevin Carden from SCPlaybook.com for supplying the Sendek and Abbott quotes.