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USC basketball: Trojans fall to short-handed Arizona State, 62-53

January 5, 2012 |  9:34 pm

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USC recorded an upbeat accomplishment Thursday.

Barring a true disaster, no loss it endures the rest of the season will be as embarrassing as its 62-53 loss  to a short-handed Arizona State squad.

For USC fans, that’s a glass-half-full way of looking at things.

To everyone else, it’s bunk.

The Sun Devils trailed before they entered the Galen Center, with three players, including leading scorer Keala King (13.7 points a game), suspended for “unacceptable conduct.”

Along with King, fellow starter Kyle Cain and reserve guard Chris Colvin didn’t make the trip to Los Angeles, leaving Arizona State with only six scholarship players.

The Sun Devils (5-9, 1-1 in the Pac-12 Conference) hadn’t been scoring much –- just 64.2 points per game, 10th lowest in the league -– but they were short about 28 more points than usual.

That wasn’t a problem against USC (5-11, 0-3), which has lost seven of eight.

The Trojans’ have plenty of their own offensive handicaps, finishing most games in the 40-point range, with an offense that averaged a league-worst 55.5 points a game.

And one of those issues is facing a zone defense, which Arizona State plays well.

So USC, again, struggled from the field, making just 38% of its shots and, again, it failed to finish a close game on the winning side.

The closest the Trojans got in the second half was within one point, after Dewayne Dedmon scored on an offensive put-back with about nine minutes left.

But Arizona State, which received 22 points from Carrick Felix and 19 from Trent Lockett, responded with a 6-0 run and was able to hold on.

It snapped Arizona State’s four-game losing streak, and it was Coach Herb Sendek’s first win in the Galen Center, a building where he had lost five straight.  

Even though his Sun Devils were the visitors, for most of the night their shots found the bottom of the net as if they had been playing here for years.

They couldn’t seem to miss, hitting 61% of their shots.

But USC could.

In fact, the Trojans, who have laid more bricks than a union of masons this season, found themselves down by 10 at halftime after starting the game three for 12.

A metal detector might have helped USC’s shots find the rim –- at least it wouldn’t have hurt –- but the Trojans were afforded no such luxury.

Instead, they made costly mistakes along with the misses, such as fouling three-point shooters (twice) and failing to capitalize on Arizona State’s 18 turnovers.

USC floor leader Maurice Jones finished with 13 points but none of them making an impact.  Aaron Fuller led USC with 14 points.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: USC guard Maurice Jones, right, battles Arizona State guard Trent Lockett for a loose ball in the first half Thursday night. Credit: Richard Hartog / Associated Press

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