Sunday, March 2, 2008

Trojans fall at ASU 80-66

It had all the makings of a classic "trap game." USC didn't appear to want this game as bad as Arizona State did, and it showed in the final box score. ASU played like their backs were against the wall, got a few fortunate calls from the refs, and got seemingly every break in the contest. Most of the Trojans simply failed to show up yesterday. Dwight Lewis looked timid offensively and got dominated defensively by ASU's James Harden, who finished with 24 points on 7 for 8 shooting. Forwards Davon Jefferson, Taj Gibson, and Keith Wilkinson combined for a total of 13 points and each fouled out of the game. Guards Angelo Johnson and Daniel Hackett played hard, but they also had their fair share struggles offensively with only 9 combined points and 7 turnovers. There is one Trojan who stepped up his game though. Freshman guard O.J. Mayo carried the Trojans all game and finished with a career high 37 points, which included a sizzling 7-10 from 3-point land and 6-7 from the free throw line. Mayo has been on an absolute tear since that forgettable game he had against the bruins. He is now peaking at the right time and is prepping himself for a nice tournament run. Here's a nice quote from Sun Devils Coach Herb Sendek on Mayo's performance:
"He was incredible," Sendek said. "You have to understand, we're emphasizing him, and he's still getting 37."

Still, Mayo was disappointed in the loss, and showed his maturity again by calling this a team loss. Here's O.J. Mayo's post-game quote summarizing the Trojan defeat:
"We lost our poise," Mayo said. "We had some intentional fouls and some technical fouls and just kind of unraveled and lost our poise as a team."
Despite the loss, the Trojans earned themselves a nice split on the road trip to Arizona. USC missed an opportunity to take sole possession of 3rd place in the Pac-10 following Washington State's loss to Stanford. If we finish tied for third with the Cougars, they would win the tie-breaker by virtue of their season sweep over us this season. So all focus should go towards locking up 4th place and securing our NCAA Tournament bid. Paragon said it best over at Conquest Chronicles:
A win over either Cal or Stanford ensures 10 wins in the Pac-10 and a 4th place finish, which would pretty much ensure a birth in the tournament, as no 10-win Pac-10 team has ever missed the tournament.
I want to see a packed house this weekend at Galen Center, starting this Thursday against Cal. This is USC's final homestand, as well as the last two games of the regular season. March is here fellas, let the madness begin...

Fight On! Beat the Bears!

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