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USC holds off Arizona State 57-56

Posted: March 2, 2013 10:00 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2013 10:00 p.m.

Southern California forward Eric Wise (34) goes up for two of his team-high 12 points as Arizona State forward Jonathan Gilling (31). (AP)

 

 LOS ANGELES (AP) — USC interim coach Bob Cantu says nothing comes easy when it comes to games in the Pac-12 Conference.

Saturday's game against Arizona State was Exhibit A of those sentiments as the Trojans led throughout, then withstood a furious Sun Devils rally in the final minute to hang on for a 57-56 victory.

Arizona State pulled within 55-52 on Chris Colvin's basket with 53 seconds left. After a timeout, the Trojans ran down the 35-second shot clock, but J.T. Terrell missed on an outside shot. Eric Wise, however, got the rebound, was fouled and — after the referees reviewed the video to make sure the shot clock had not expired — made two free throws to put USC up 57-52.

Jahii Carson scored inside for the Devils and, after a USC turnover on the inbounds pass, hit another bucket that made it 57-56 with 5 seconds left.

Wise was fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and missed the front end of the one-and-one free throw, giving Arizona State one last chance. But Carson's 35-footer at the buzzer was off target.

"Everything we do in this conference is earned," Cantu said.

Wise scored 12 points, Bryon Wesley added 11 and J.T. Terrell had 10 for USC (14-15, 9-7 Pac-12).

Carson scored 23 points and Jordan Bachynski had 17 for Arizona State (20-10, 9-8), which lost its third in a row for the first time this season.

USC led by as many as 19 points in the first half, but Arizona State trimmed the deficit to 31-20 at halftime. And when the Trojans began the second half by missing their first three shots, the Sun Devils were able to get within 31-24.

USC responded, capping an 8-2 run with a steal by Terrell that led to a layup by Wise and a 39-26 advantage.

The Trojans increased their lead to 14 points at 51-37 on a bucket by Wise with 7:34 remaining, but the Devils made another push. Carson scored on a layup and Bachynski made two free throws to narrow the deficit to 10 points.

Jio Fontan was called for a flagrant foul, which gave Arizona State two free throws and the ball. Carson made both free throws and Colvin followed with a jumper to make it 51-45 with 5:40 to go, setting up the frantic finish.

"We didn't play very well," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said. "I mean obviously we were turning the ball over and missing shots. And to our guys' credit, they found a way to battle back and we had a chance to win."

The relatively early tip time (noon) might have affected both teams as neither team scored on its first six possessions. Fontan finally got the Trojans on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer at the 16:52 mark of the first half, while the Sun Devils' first basket came on a layup by Carson with 16:10 remaining.

The lack of offense was in contrast to the two teams' previous meeting, when they combined for 191 points in Arizona State's 98-93 overtime victory on Jan. 24.

While the Trojans started to get some shots to fall, the Sun Devils remained cold, missing 12 of their first 14 shots and allowing USC to take an 18-5 lead just past the midway point of the first half. The Trojans increased the margin to 24-7 on a fast-break dunk by Terrell with 5:55 remaining, and took their biggest lead of the half at 28-9 on a 3-pointer from the left baseline by Chass Bryan with 4:11 to go.

"We really shared the ball," Cantu said of USC's fast start. "We pushed it, we attacked the basket, we got to the foul line. We said if you move the ball to the open player, the ball will end up coming back to you, and we did that. We played loose and we played free and we really got going there."

Arizona State seemed to wake up at the end of the half, going on an 11-3 run over the final four minutes. The Sun Devils scored more points in that spurt than they did in the first 16 minutes to get within 31-20 at the break.

Despite the late spurt, Arizona State shot just 36 percent (9 for 25) while committing 10 turnovers in the first half. USC shot 50 percent in the half (11 for 22) and was led by Fontan's seven points. Carson led the Sun Devils with six points.

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