USC defeats the Sun Devils, 81-73, behind Boogie’s 28 points

The USC Trojans defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils 81-73, with Boogie Ellis leading the team with 28 points.

LOS ANGELES — Isaiah Collier, who recently scored 31 points against the Washington Huskies on the road, is now gearing up to face the Sun Devils at the Galen Center. On January 20th, when USC played against Arizona State, they lost by 15 points. However, the Sun Devils have had a rough patch since then, losing 8 out of their last 11 games. USC has won their last seven home games against ASU.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

USC couldn’t get away from the Sun Devils

The Sun Devils got off to a rough start as the Trojans took an early lead of 13-4, thanks to Boogie Ellis’ 8 points. However, the Trojans have been performing exceptionally well lately, having won their best road game of the season. Andy Enfield has been sticking to his regular rotations, but with two home games left before Thursday, Oziyah Sellers made an appearance in the middle of the first half and scored five points off the bench. Bronny James also played in the game for the first time, and although he did not score, he did manage to get one assist and one steal in 11 minutes in the first half. LeBron James, his father, was present courtside to witness the game alongside Texans quarterback C.J Stroud.

Towards the end of the first half, the Sun Devils made a comeback and took the lead, 23-20. ASU went on a 14-2 run, and Adam Miller played an outstanding game, scoring nine points and being perfect from the field. Bobby Hurley, Arizona State coach, showed excellent leadership qualities and rallied his team with his energy to take control of the game. In the first half, Jose Perez scored six points, two rebounds, and two assists. He had previously delivered an excellent performance against the Trojans when they played in January.

USC was expected to win the game by 9.5 points against Arizona State, but both teams were tied at 32-32 by the end of the first half. The Trojans had seven turnovers, while the Sun Devils had four. USC’s defense was effective as they held ASU to 2 for 8 from three-point range. Although Ellis scored eight points in the first half, he did not score any more after that while playing for nine minutes. On the other hand, Collier had six points, two assists, and two rebounds. Kobe Johnson played the most minutes and scored seven points, four rebounds, and one assist. It was good to see Harrison Hornery make an appearance for the first time since February 29th, even though he only played for four minutes against Washington State.

USC’s defense was rolling in the second half

Enfield’s team was well-prepared for the start of the second half and managed to take an early six-point lead. ASU’s Frankie Collins played for 18 minutes in the first half, scoring nine points and four steals to keep his team in the game. However, Collins got into foul trouble while trying to guard Collier in the middle of the second half. Soon after, USC started to play remarkably well, and Ellis nailed his fourth three-pointer of the second half, giving the Trojans an eight-point lead.

The Sun Devils were losing 63-58 with 7:20 left in the game. They had been dominating the paint and had blocked USC six times. Joshua Morgan had played most of the minutes at center, while DJ Rodman had helped with rebounding, which had been a major concern for the Trojans. However, Collier picked up his fourth foul of the game and had to go to the bench. This gave USC an opportunity to take a commanding nine-point lead late in the game. All year long, the Trojans had struggled to play without fouling, and it continued to be a problem late in the game against the Sun Devils.

During the game, USC’s defense played better in the second half, but they couldn’t stop Perez who was having an amazing individual performance. Despite their efforts, USC scored 18 fast-break points in the game. The Trojans’ zone defense was not always effective as ASU was able to score efficiently in the paint but were able to guard the perimeter very well.

With 2:59 left in the game, Collins fouled out with 11 points and 6 assists to his name. Perez played a great game, scoring the highest on his team with 25-points and going perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. Adam Miller also played well with 18 points, making 5 of 10 from the field, but unfortunately, his team lost 81-73 to USC. The Sun Devils put up a good fight till the end but couldn’t hold off the Trojans, who made their free throws when it mattered the most.

Enfield did a great job motivating his team, resulting in them scoring 49 points in the second half. Johnson had a great game, finishing with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in their win. Despite turning the ball over 14 times, the Trojans were able to limit the Sun Devils to only 18 points off turnovers. However, the Trojans struggled to get production from their bench, with only 11 points coming from reserves, 8 from Sellers and 3 from Iwuchukwu.

Enfield’s team played a defensive game throughout the game, despite losing the lead several times. They managed to hold the Sun Devils to only three out of sixteen three-point shots. On the other hand, USC scored twelve out of twenty-four three-point shots. The Trojans also had a total of eighteen assists, showcasing their excellent ball movement. Arizona State struggled to keep up with USC’s pace. The Trojans were in control, making twenty-five out of thirty free throws. Morgan had a perfect record of six out of six from the free throw line, finishing the game with eight points, eight rebounds, and two assists. Rodman also had a flawless free throw record of five out of five finishing with eleven points.

One game remaining at the Galen Center for USC

Enfield emphasized the significance of their victory against Arizona State, citing how they capitalized on the Sun Devils’ weaknesses. Both the offense and defense played their roles effectively, with the offense particularly excelling in making crucial shots and clutch free throws.

“One thing we can do is rebound against them because they are usually out of position, and they are not a great offensive rebounding team,” said Enfield postgame.

During the postgame press conference, Enfield appeared fired up and mentioned how his team played great defense in the second half, holding their opponents to only one of eight from beyond the arc. He also spoke about James’ recent performances, noting that he had only made one three-pointer over the last six games.

“We want our guys to take open threes and make plays,” said Enfield as he continued to share his concerns on James. “We never tell him not to shoot.”

James has made only one out of four three-point shots in his last six games for the Trojans. The 6’4 freshman has been averaging 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists this season. Earlier this week, LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, mentioned that James would consider joining the NBA if a team shows interest in drafting him. Some people believe that he may not be ready for the next level, but if he gets drafted, he will leave USC after one season.

Ellis will be playing his final game at the Galen Center on Saturday night, and he is eager to savor that moment as they attempt to upset one of the country’s best teams. In their previous game against the Wildcats in Arizona, the Trojans put up a decent fight till the very end, but now they are fit and ready to take on the challenge.

“Winning the first four minutes and winning the last four minutes.” Ellis on what they need to do in order to win against Arizona.

Ellis emphasized the importance of upcoming games, including the Pac-12 tournament. Enfield advised approaching these games as if they were part of the tournament.

“I’m just focused on just trying to get 1% better every day and do whatever it takes for us to go on this run because it’s very important to me to go win and finish strong.” said Ellis postgame.

The upcoming game against the Wildcats will be challenging as Caleb Love has been scoring 19.4 points per game, and he is one of the five players who are averaging in double figures. On January 17th, Arizona defeated the Trojans 82-67. They have won their last six games against the Trojans.