ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU edges by USC to make Pac-12 semis, sets up rematch with Arizona

Mar 9, 2023, 11:53 PM | Updated: Mar 10, 2023, 9:56 am

DJ Horne #0 of the Arizona State Sun Devils handles the ball against Reese Dixon-Waters #2 of the U...

DJ Horne #0 of the Arizona State Sun Devils handles the ball against Reese Dixon-Waters #2 of the USC Trojans in the first half of a quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 09, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The Arizona State Sun Devils used a strong first-half shooting stretch to beat the USC Trojans 77-72 on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

The win sets up a third game of the season against the Arizona Wildcats. This time in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday at T-Mobile Arena.

Bobby Hurley’s squad led the Trojans 39-25 at the half thanks to an 8-for-17 performance for the 3-point line.

ASU’s defense was in peak shape, holding USC to 7-of-27 shooting at the half. They also turned over the Trojans seven times in the half.

Guards Desmond Cambridge Jr. and D.J. Horne led the way for the Sun Devils.

Cambridge Jr. led all scorers with 27 points on the night, shooting 10-for-21 (6-of-12 from 3), grabbing seven rebounds (four offensive) and snagging a steal. Horne finished with 16 points on the night.

“I am really pleased with our performance tonight, the way we started and how efficient we were on offense,” Hurley told reporters postgame. “Guys really stepped up in a big game and got us off to a great start.

“At half, to hold USC to 25 points and 25% from the field, one assist and seven turnovers. Our defense was what it has been most of the year and we relied on that.”

The Sun Devils are now 10-2 in games Cambridge Jr. scores 15 or more points in. Cambridge attributed his big night to confidence and the trust his teammates have in him.

“It felt good, but at the end of the day I knew I had to come ready to play today,” Cambridge told reporters.

“Yesterday, I didn’t play well, but my teammates did and they lifted me up. I take that personally. Guys put their trust in me and I feel like I needed to get that back.”

USC came out strong in the second half but ASU looked like a team playing for its NCAA Tournament life.

The Sun Devils looked like a team giving more effort, diving for loose balls, notching three blocks and collecting 13 total offensive rebounds.

ASU continued its hot 3-point shooting, making 14 total threes on the night. ASU made 23 total buckets as a team.

One of the big areas the Sun Devils will look to improve on to notch a second win of the year against the Wildcats will be free throw shooting, going 17-28 on the night.

Entering Thursday night, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had ASU as his first team out of March Madness.

The win likely puts ASU on the right side of the bubble after a few bubble teams, including one of the “Last Four In” teams in Oklahoma State, lost on Thursday.

The ASU-Arizona trilogy will tip off at 9:30 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

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