TEMPE, Ariz.– The USC Trojans wrapped up their three-game road trip against the Arizona State Sun Devils led by Bobby Hurley. Previously, ASU suffered their first home loss of the season against UCLA, falling 68-66. Meanwhile, USC played without Boogie Ellis for the third consecutive game.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
A terrible ending for USC in first half
The Trojans had suffered a loss against the Wildcats but they have shown signs of improving with their current set of players. Bronny James has started for the third consecutive time and has been performing well, especially in the previous game against Arizona. Although he had a good first half, there are certain areas where he needs to improve, especially in securing the ball as a point guard. He had two quick fouls and two turnovers which highlight his weaknesses as a young freshman. James’ performance in the first half included five points, two rebounds, and three assists.
It has only been slightly over a month since James made his debut against Long Beach State, and it is only his third game without a minute restriction. It is not reasonable to expect James to perform at a high level now after being out of action for over five months due to cardiac arrest. Andy Enfield is slowly building confidence in James as he allows him to be a playmaker on the court in the absence of Ellis and Isaiah Collier.
DJ Rodman has proven to be an invaluable player for the team with his 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He is consistently making his open shots and defending at a high level. Another player who has stepped up is Oziyah Sellers, who was also included in the starting line-up. He has shown sparks of his talent. However, Kobe Johnson only managed to score seven points and grab two rebounds on 3 out of 7 from the field. Johnson is considered as the captain of the team and his leadership skills are crucial for USC. In the last few games, there have been moments where the team lacked leadership on the court which has been attributed to the inconsistency with the rotations and injury issues, as Enfield has previously talked about..
During the first half of the game between Arizona State and the Trojans, Frankie Collins showed his prowess on both ends of the court. He played a crucial role in creating multiple turnovers with the full court pressure that ASU mounted on the Trojans. Collins has been having an incredible year for ASU and was showcasing his talents on national television.
During the first half of the game, USC struggled to maintain possession of the ball, turning it over a total of 16 times. As a result, they were trailing 43-36 at halftime. Despite their struggles, the Trojans were able to make an impressive 57.1% of their three-point shots in the first half. However, late in the half, USC was tied, but careless possessions allowed the Sun Devils to go on a run and close the half strong.
ASU takes control in the second half
During the second half, the Sun Devils continued their domination of the game, pushing the Trojans to work hard to stay in. ASU took an 11-point lead as Sun Devils’ Guard Jose Perez consistently drove towards the basket, making it tough for the Trojans to defend. The Trojans’ defenders failed to go over screens and were slow to rotate, leading to many open jump shots for the Sun Devils. It was a mess for the short-handed Trojans.
The Trojans are experiencing difficulties with the zone defense in this game, while ASU is recognizing and making the right plays. USC has been averaging 13.5 turnovers per game, but today they had 22 turnovers, which is the highest this season. Johnson and Rodman both had 5 turnovers each, while James only had 3. Vincent Iwuchukwu played a great game with 14 points and 12 rebounds, scoring 5 of 7 from the field. Joshua Morgan is back for his second game, and he is slowly getting back to his initial form at the beginning of the season. Morgan had 8 points while playing 18 minutes.
ASU put up a fierce fight to close out the first half on a 20-5 run. They carried the momentum into the second half and secured a win over the Trojans. Jose Perez led the charge with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. He kept making plays for himself and his teammates, and his energy was contagious. Frankie Collins and Jamiya Neal also played exceptionally well, with 17 points each. Neal added 9 rebounds and 3 assists, contributing on both sides of the ball. Collins had 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 steals, making a significant impact on the game against USC.
The USC Trojans struggled with their three-point shots, making only 4 out of 15 attempts during the game. Unfortunately, James has been having a hard time with his three-point shots lately, as he has only managed to make 1 out of 15 attempts in the last few games. Arizona State was able to score 24 points from USC’s 22 turnovers. Additionally, the Sun Devils scored 27 fast break points as USC’s defense was not able to keep up.
James played 25 minutes and scored 7 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in the 82-67 loss in Tempe.
Changes need to happen in order to save the season
As we analyze the current state of the USC team, it appears that the players are not putting in the level of effort and determination that is required to succeed. The team lacks urgency, and they seem to be playing without the necessary competitive spirit to win games. This issue needs to be addressed by Coach Enfield as soon as possible, before it becomes a bigger problem and negatively impacts the team’s performance in the rest of the season.
It is worth noting that the Trojans have faced some challenges, such as injuries and illnesses, which have prevented them from meeting the expectations set for them at the beginning of the season. These obstacles have made the journey difficult for the team, and it has been challenging to maintain high levels of morale and motivation. However, it is crucial that the team overcomes these challenges and regains their momentum over the next week before they play again next Saturday at home as they host the Bruins.
USC basketball team is facing a tough challenge as one of their key players, Collier, is not expected to return to the court for another month or so. During this period, the Trojans will have to find a way to win close games without him.
In their recent game against ASU, USC was trailing by five points in the middle of the second half. However, the Trojans continued to leave the lane open, which allowed the Sun Devils to score 36 points in the paint. This defensive lapse proved to be costly for the Trojans as they eventually lost the game.
USC will have to work on their defense and come up with a better strategy to prevent their opponents from scoring in the paint. With many crucial games coming up, the Trojans will have to step up their game and make up for the absence of Collier.
Boogie Ellis is set to return next week when they host the Bruins, after recovering from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the last three games. With Ellis back on the court, USC’s offensive game is expected to improve significantly. It will give James more opportunities to play off the ball and provide an additional playmaker on the court. The Trojans have the entire week to prepare and improve their game during practice sessions before hosting UCLA next Saturday night on ESPN2.