Trojans Get Defensive Against Sun Devils

Jan. 20, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nick Young scored 18 points, and Southern California used a stifling defense to beat Arizona State 58-49 Saturday night and enhance its bid to move into the national rankings for the first time in almost five years.

Taj Gibson had 11 points and eight rebounds and Gabe Pruitt had nine points and four assists for the Trojans (15-5, 5-2 Pac-10), who have won six of their last eight games including four over ranked opponents.

USC's victories over Wichita State, Washington, Oregon and Arizona represent its most wins over Top 25 teams since the Trojans beat six during the 2001-02 season. They haven't appeared in the Top 25 since March 2002. The Trojans handed No. 9 Oregon its only loss on Jan. 4.

Jeff Pendergraph had 13 points and nine rebounds and freshman Derek Glasser added 10 points and four assists for the Sun Devils (6-13, 0-8), who lost their ninth straight. ASU's 49 points were a season-low - one fewer than it scored Thursday night in a 60-50 loss at No. 3 UCLA.

ASU shot just 36.5 percent (19-of-52). The Trojans have held 18 of 20 opponents to 40.4 percent or less from the floor and 16 of 20 under 40 percent.

The Sun Devils did a good job defensively as well, holding USC to 37.5 percent (15-of-40). The difference was at the foul line, where USC went 22-of-28 while ASU was 4-of-9.

The Sun Devils, who missed all seven 3-pointers they tried in the first half, got two from Allen Morill and one each from Jerren Shipp and Glasser in the first seven minutes of the second half to key a 16-9 run that cut USC's lead to five points.

Two baskets by Gibson and two free throws each by Pruitt and Dwight Lewis extended the Trojans' lead to 47-34 before Glasser scored five straight points to trim USC's lead to eight with 4:48 remaining.

A basket by Pendergraph with 2:15 left made it 51-44, but that was as close as the Sun Devils would get. Young made five foul shots and Daniel Hackett added two down the stretch to keep USC comfortably ahead.

Three-pointers by Young and Pruitt in the opening three minutes put USC ahead for good. A basket by ASU's Antwi Atuahene with 12:38 left in the first half cut USC's lead to 14-13, but the Trojans outscored the Sun Devils 16-5 during the rest of the half for a 30-18 lead.

ASU had only one first-half field goal after Atuahene's basket - a layup by Shipp with 3:33 remaining. USC didn't fare much better during that stretch, getting only five field goals including a 3-pointer by Hackett and five foul shots.

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