Devils Get Sweet Revenge Against Trojans

On Thursday night, it was hard to say who unlashed their fury more. Mother nature with its never-ending rainstorm over the valley, or Rob Evans' squad who poured in basket after basket in Wells Fargo Arena. One thing is for certain; ASU ended a five game losing streak to USC in convincing fashion 108-78.

The home team's dominance was never in question, as they never trailed once in the contest. Tommy Smith and Curtis Millage helped their team jump to a commanding 15-4 lead at the 15:01 mark. The Visitors bench didn't even wait for the TV timeout, and tried to regroup their troops. Suffice to say that the break in action didn't make matters better. An 18-5 Sun Devil run aided by Smith and Jamal Hill propelled ASU to a 33-9 led with 7:50 left in the first half. USC finally scored in double digits seconds later but at this point it was all academic. The Devils went down to the locker room leading 58-30, and for the rest of the game never let their lead dip below 20 points. With 8:22 left in the game the lead was a cool 30 points 89-59. From that point on both teams merely did nothing but play the game out and trade baskets until the final buzzer sounded.

Curtis Milage led five teammates in double figures with 27 points to along with four steals. Ike Diogu wasn't far behind with 26 points, as well as two blocks. Shawn Redhage turned in the most well rounded performance of the night. The senior who was coming off a career high 29 points, had a double double scoring 16 points and snaring 12 boards. Tommy Smith played only 14 minutes, but was highly effective scoring 15 points and adding three swats to his season long list. Jamal Hill had his third straight double digit game scoring 12. Jason Braxton played perhaps one of his best games ever in the maroon and gold. He dished out seven assists and collected four rebounds, while committing no turnovers and scoring four points.

The Sun Devils were unconscious from the field shooting at a 60% clip, and were solid from the free throw line sinking in 72.7% of their shots (32-44). Other stats that jump off the page are the team's 23 assists and the 42-38 supremacy on the glass. All in all, the 10,104 in attendance who braved a soaked night were well rewarded witnessing the most dominating ASU win in the 2002-03 season.

Coach Rob Evans said that tonight's victory was indicative of the team's productive practices this week. "The first half was one of the better halves we played. We came ready to play. I felt like that the last 2-3 days. We worked on attacking the zone and attacking the press defense." The fifth year coach mentioned that practices became so heated lately that he had to stop them because "We're the healthiest we've been all year, and players were getting after each other. The second unit really took it to the first unit." Naturally, his team's defensive dominance wasn't overlooked. "We took out USC from the things that they like to do. Our defense was really solid tonight." On the fact that Milage and Diogu played 34 and 32 minutes respectively in the blow out, Evans commented: "I didn't intend to rest my starters. These are 18-19 year old kids, and they have a couple of days to rest. I wanted them to stay in the game and stay focused." It was another stellar performance by Ike Diogu and Evans says that the best is yet to come from the best freshman in the Pac-10. "Ike's been playing like this every game. He scored in double figures each game this year. He's getting better and expanding his game. He's playing better defense on the perimeter. I don't think anybody is playing better in the Pac-10 than him."

It was a night where nothing went wrong for ASU. And just because of that, the Sun Devils have to spend little time, if any, basking in the glory of this victory. After all, nights like this are rare for any team, and you're only as good as your last game. While UCLA, ASU's opponent on Saturday has been horrendous all season; it still presents an opportunity to falter. Nevertheless, Evans and his staff always preached not getting too high after a win. That mantra is exactly what this Sun Devil team needs to keep in mind, as they try to extend their winning streak to four on Saturday.

Sparky's Sundries One cannot start this section without talking about the refs in tonight's game. True, complaining about the men in stripes following a 40-point win may seem ridiculous. However, calling 53 fouls in a laugher of a game is even more ludicrous. One of their bogus calls resulted in an unfortunate incident where ice was thrown onto the floor. Kudos to coach Evans who took the P.A.'s microphone pleading with the crowd to "Let the kids play the game"! And you wonder what's the irony in all this? Lou Capenella, the head of the Pac-10 officiating, was in the stands. Something tells us that his game report will be less than glowing…it was appropriate that the player of the game, as announced over the P.A. system, was the entire team. One would be hard pressed to recall another total team effort in recent years, as the one displayed tonight…The extreme weather caused a good deal of those in attendance to arrive late, but they made up with one of the loudest crowds of the year. Nice to see that Hoops fans in the valley are supporting the fine season that this team is putting forward…Football players Mike Davis and Mason Unck were in attendance, as well as ex-Sun Devil Kurt Wallin…the student section was rocking as usual. The funniest banner by ASU Super fan (who shaved his Mohawk) read: "Trojans suck. Use Lifestyles." I'm sure every pharmacist reading this is giggling out loud…

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