USC improves its tournament resume

first_imgHead coach Bobby Hurley threw that same press on after his team went down 12-2 early thanks to a trio of 3-pointers from Utomi, who would also drain a step-back three to beat the shot clock and put USC up 24-11 with 11 and a half minutes left in the first half. Senior guard Jonah Mathews led all scorers with 23 points on 58% shooting from the field, while graduate transfer guard Daniel Utomi dropped 19 points on 4-of-8 shooting from behind the 3-point line, along with 10 rebounds.  But USC’s shooting steadied its lead all half, going 7-for-11 from downtown as opposed to ASU’s 5-for-14. The Trojans also outrebounded their opponent 21-11, allowing for 10 second-chance points to the Sun Devils’ 2.  “The seniors are supposed to help us win a big game on our home court and they did that,” Enfield said.  Redshirt senior guard Daniel Utomi shot 50% from the field during a standout performance Saturday night. (Peter Gastis | Daily Trojan) The press was effective in limiting USC’s offense once again, forcing the Trojans to turn the ball over 14 times in the first half, resulting in 14 points. Saturday’s game marked the first “green game” at Galen Center, an initiative by USC to turn the arena into a zero-waste venue. The win moved USC to fifth place with a matchup against UCLA at home this Saturday.  The USC men’s basketball team picked up a huge 71-61 win over Arizona State at Galen Center Saturday. Going into the game, the Sun Devils and Trojans were third and sixth, respectively, in the Pac-12 standings and with the conference tournament approaching, every remaining game can greatly impact the Trojans’ shot at a first-round bye.  The Trojans were able to settle in during the second half, surrendering just five turnovers. “[Utomi]’s definitely the X-factor of the team,” Mathews said. “If he plays well, we’re for sure playing good.” Senior guard Jonah Mathews shredded the Sun Devils’ defense Saturday night for a career-high 23 points. (Peter Gastis | Daily Trojan) ASU cut the score to 26-21 after a floater by junior guard Remy Martin was followed by a steal and a 3-pointer from redshirt senior guard Rob Edwards.  Adlesh played 19 minutes after not seeing significant game action in two of the last three matchups.center_img USC fell to the Sun Devils in Tempe 66-64 on Feb. 8 as the squad was unable to score in the last two minutes after going up 64-59, largely due to heavy defensive pressure from Arizona State’s full-court press that forced 18 turnovers in the second half.  “[Adlesh] is a captain for a reason,” Enfield said. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever coached.” Martin, a contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year award and who also came off a 30-point game in a loss at UCLA, led ASU in scoring with 22 points. “It takes a team to guard [Martin],” Enfield said.  However, ASU couldn’t keep up with USC the remainder of the game. The Trojans shot 45% from three and 50% from the field, not to mention the 11-rebound advantage they claimed.  Senior forward Nick Rakocevic posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and graduate transfer guard Quinton Adlesh made two big threes down the stretch while playing fantastic defense on the other end of the floor.  “Just break the press and run our plays,” Adlesh said of the adjustments at halftime. “Just relax and settle in to our offense.”  ASU went on an 11-0 scoring run midway through the second half to cut the lead to 54-53 after the Trojans had been in control up 12.  Mathews was finally able to break the nearly five-minute scoring drought with a strong finish and a foul that was followed by a 3-pointer on the next possession with 6:53 to go.  Head coach Andy Enfield said Utomi and the veterans’ leadership was key to USC’s winning effort. The win could prove to be huge for a USC team on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament and is looking to improve its seeding in Las Vegas. USC can help out both of those causes when it hosts crosstown rival UCLA at Galen Center Saturday at 12:15 p.m.last_img