Just in case there any remaining shreds of hope that the Arizona State Sun Devils could earn an NCAA Tournament bid, Saturday's disappointing 57-56 loss to the USC Trojans at the Galen Center killed them.
The Devils came out flat and dug themselves a 19-point hole in the first half that, despite a furious second half rally, they couldn't climb out of.
With USC leading 55-52 and under 20 seconds to play, Trojans' guard J.T. Terrell threw up an airball that was grabbed by Eric Wise. Although the ball didn't draw iron, the shot clock was inadvertently reset and a foul was called on ASU's Jordan Bachynski. The officials looked at video replay for several minutes to determine what course of action to take. Ultimately, they awarded two free throws to Wise and the senior forward canned them both.
Down five, ASU wouldn't quit. Jahii Carson made a jumper to pull the Sun Devils to within three and then they forced a turnover on the inbounds play. Instead of taking a potential game-tying three-point attempt, Carson drove for a layup to make it a one-point game.
Carrick Felix fouled Wise, who missed the front end of a one-and-one. Jonathan Gilling rebounded and got the ball to Carson, who launched a 40-foot jumper that clanged off the rim at the buzzer.
The Sun Devils' third straight loss makes their record 20-10 overall and 9-8 in the Pac-12 -- which is good for 7th place behind USC who is now 9-7 in conference play with two games remaining.
Carson led all scorers with 23 points and continued to show a knack for scoring at will when the Sun Devils need points.
Senior guard Chris Colvin was a major sparkplug in the second half, scoring seven of his 10 points after halftime. Colvin also added four steals and three assists while making both of his free throw attempts.
The first 16 minutes of the game, ASU's play was atrocious. At the under 4:00 media timeout, the Sun Devils trailed 28-9 and had as many turnovers as points.
Has anyone seen Evan Gordon? The junior guard, who started off Pac-12 play in a funk, completely disappeared this weekend for ASU. In the two games in Los Angeles, Gordon failed to score, going 0-for-7 from the field in a combined 50 minutes of action. He had been averaging 13 points per game over his last 12 contests and had 28 points in the first meeting with USC -- a 98-93 ASU overtime win on January 24.
Gilling, the Danish sophomore, also struggled mightily, scoring just two points and grabbing two rebounds in the loss.
Carrick Felix had a nice game on the boards with nine rebounds, but had his second-worst shooting day of the season, hitting on just 2-of-11 field goal attempts and missing all five shots from behind the arc.
• Sophomore Jonathan Gilling's streak of 47 straight games with at least one made three-pointer came to an end.
• Freshman post Eric Jacobsen made his first career start and was a non-factor in the game. Jacobsen failed to score and grabbed three rebounds.
• ASU is in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season.
• Since his 15-rebound game against UCLA January 26, Bachynski has averaged only 4.2 rebounds per contest. The 7-foot-2 junior had just three rebounds vs. USC.
He Said It:
"Yeah, we stunk the joint up from the start, it's just as simple as that. We didn't come out with any purpose, any level of intelligent play, any aggressiveness, any energy, any effort -- I mean we turned the ball over nine times before the first ten minutes of the game were up. You can't win on the road, on Senior Day with that type of effort. We just didn't bring it today." -- ASU associate head coach Dedrique Taylor, during a postgame interview with Tim Healey and Kyle Dodd on the Midfirst Bank Sun Devil IMG Sports Network
ASU wraps up their regular season next Saturday in Tucson against the 11th-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Tip-off is at 2:30 from McKale Center.
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