ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU men’s hoops’ surge too late to overcome USC in flat performance

Jan 22, 2023, 12:12 AM | Updated: 12:21 am
Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. scores against USC in a 77-69 loss at Desert Financial Ar...
Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. scores against USC in a 77-69 loss at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 21, 2023. (Arizona Sports/Jeremy Schnell)
(Arizona Sports/Jeremy Schnell)

TEMPE – It was too little, too late for Arizona State men’s basketball as the Sun Devils fell 77-69 to USC on Saturday night at Desert Financial Arena.

“I approve of the scrambling mode of our last four minutes and just how guys tried a lot harder,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said postgame.

“And hopefully we can build off that and put guys on the floor that are going to give maximum effort when they are out there.”

ASU (15-3, 6-3 Pac-12) played poorly for most of the game, leading just once on the night when Desmond Cambridge Jr. hit a jump shot to put the Sun Devils up 4-2 with 18:41 left in the first half.

The Sun Devils trailed by as much as 24 points when the Trojans took a 77-53 lead on a Boogie Ellis slam with 4:51 to play in the game.

However, USC (14-6, 6-3 Pac-12) did not score the rest of the night, as Arizona State stormed back to cut the lead to just eight points with 34 seconds on the clock.

On the Trojans’ ensuing possession, ASU guard Frankie Collins stole the ball from Drew Peterson. However, Sun Devil forward Warren Washington turned the ball over and Arizona State let USC dribble the clock away without fouling.

Despite the effort at the end of the game and tying a career-high with 21 points, Washington was less than enthused with his team’s effort after the game.

“I thought it was flat-out embarrassing,” Washington said. “We embarrassed our fans. We embarrassed ourselves. … Honestly, it’s just embarrassing. I don’t have much to say about it. It’s embarrassing.”

In ASU’s game against No. 5 UCLA on Thursday, the Arizona State defense was not up to par with what it has been this season. The Sun Devils allowed the Bruins to shoot 26-for-52 (50%) in the game, falling 74-62.

Against USC on Saturday, the signature 2022-23 ASU defense was not on display again. Arizona State allowed 28-for-57 shooting (49.1%) from the field which included 7-for-18 (38.9%) 3-point shooting.

Hurley discussed his defense not being where it should be.

“It was atrocious defense out there and that’s our responsibility as staff and we’ve had an identity for most of the season of getting stops and USC is a good team,” Hurley said.

“… But at the same time, we’ve given up now back-to-back games virtually 50% shooting from the field when we’ve been holding teams in the mid-30s. So we got to get back to the drawing board at that end of the floor.”

As for if the flat performance had anything to do with ASU coming off of a tightly-contested loss to the highly-ranked Bruins, Hurley shied away from pointing to the UCLA game as a reason for Saturday’s performance.

“I’m not going to sit and make excuses,” he said. “We knew how hard the guys played on Thursday night and so we rested them. We didn’t over-practice them yesterday. There’s no reason that guys at their age physically … can’t respond after 36 hours or whatever the time frame is.”

UP NEXT

ASU travels to Seattle to take on Washington (12-9, 4-6 Pac-12) on Thursday at 9 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

The two teams last met at Desert Financial Arena on Jan. 8, with Arizona State winning 73-65.

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley calls a play in a 77-69 loss to USC at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 21, 2023. (Arizona Sports/Jeremy Schnell) Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. scores against USC in a 77-69 loss at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 21, 2023. (Arizona Sports/Jeremy Schnell) Arizona State guard Austin Nunez reacts to a team turnover against Southern California during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward Kobe Johnson (0) shoots over Arizona State forward Warren Washington (22) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona State guard Luther Muhammad shouts after getting a jump ball against Southern California forward VIncent Iwuchukwu, back right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward VIncent Iwuchukwu (3) shoots over Arizona State forward Warren Washington, left, and guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward Joshua Morgan (24) is fouled by Arizona State forward Jamiya Neal, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California guard Tre White (22) drives past Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. to score during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California guard Tre White (22) celebrates his dunk against Arizona State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California guard Drew Peterson, who scored, acknowledges a pass from a teammate, during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California guard Drew Peterson celebrates his 3-point basket against Arizona State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, and guard Frankie Collins pause near the team bench during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Southern California in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California coach Andy Enfield shouts to players during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward VIncent Iwuchukwu (3) and guard Boogie Ellis (5) defend against a shot by Arizona State forward Warren Washington (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward Joshua Morgan (24) blocks a shot by Arizona State forward Warren Washington (22) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona State forward Warren Washington (22) gets off a shot over Southern California forward Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. Southern California won 77-69. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Southern California forward Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) stops a shot by Arizona State guard Frankie Collins (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona State forward Alonzo Gaffney, left, guard DJ Horne (0) and guard Luther Muhammad (1) watch the closing moments of the team's loss to Southern California in an NCAA college basketball game in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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