The Sun Devils and the Trojans are coming into the last week of the season and want to finish strong like any other team wants to. The Pac-12 Conference Tournament is quickly approaching and having momentum is essential for both of these teams. While the Sun Devils probably are not going to post season play, the Trojans need a strong showing down the stretch to get a good seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The difference in these two teams is noticeable. While the Sun Devils came into the game with a 13-16 overall record, the Trojans are enjoying more success with a 21-7 record. Post season play is in play for USC, not for the Sun Devils. Lastly, the size that the Trojans have over the Sun Devils is distinct. USC has four players that are 6’10” or 6’11”. The biggest player the Sun Devils have is 6’8”.
Both teams came out hot. Kodi Justice, Sun Devil guard, hit some early threes to give the Sun Devils and their crowd momentum. The crowd stayed in it all through the first half and the Sun Devils kept the pressure on the Trojans by making three pointer after three pointer. Arizona State was unconscious in the first half from behind the arc.
The Sun Devils shot 63% from the three point line in the first half, but the Trojans were equally as good from the field. USC’s first half 69% shooting was punctuated by an impressive length of floor drive by 6’11” Trojan forward, Chimezie Metu, who hit a three pointer as the buzzer sounded.
USC went into the locker room up 49-48. The game was up for grabs and it wasn’t even close to end of the suspense that this game provided.
USC is a streaky shooting team, but on this day the shooting percentage for the game was 56% and even hovered around 70% for some of the game. Usually, when you shoot the ball that well, a win is sure to follow. However, you can’t count the win until the final horn sounds and the clock reads triple-zero.
The Trojans broke open the second half with 12-1 run and with 5:09 left in the game, the Trojans had a 79-69 lead.
After a Tra Holder score and a Chimezie Metu dunk, the Trojans had an 81-71 lead with a little over four minutes left in the game. It was USC’s last field goal of the game.
With 2:20 left to play in the game, the lead was cut to 81-76 thanks to a pair of free throws by Obinna Oleka and a three pointer from Shannon Evans II.
Fans had started heading for the exits. They would be sorry they did.
The last time USC put a point on the scoreboard was at the 2:09 mark when Chimezie Metu hit a free throw to make the game 82-76.
With 28.9 seconds left, Sun Devil Tra Holder, scores on a layup cutting the lead to 82-78. The Trojans, Elijah Stewart missed the front end of a one and one free throw. The pressure on the Trojans to close this game out was at the bursting point. Kodi Justice hit an off-balance three pointer to cut the lead to one point at 82-81 in favor of the Trojans.
Mind you, there were 14 seconds left at this point.
Bennie Boatwright of the Trojans threw away the inbounds play. The ball went right to Sun Devil Tra Holder who drove the ball and was fouled. Holder, with ice in his veins, sank both free throws to give the Sun Devils the lead at 83-82.
Boatwright’s attempt at the buzzer bounced away for the Trojans and the spectacular comeback for the Sun Devils was complete.
Bobby Hurley, head coach for the Sun Devils, was more than thrilled with the win.
“I am thrilled except you know probably the few weeks or days that’s been taken off my life due to having to go through that game and coach it.” Hurley said after the game.
To say the Sun Devils were overjoyed with this win would be an understatement. It’s been a tough year for the Sun Devils and any win is a good win for this program at this point. The Devils deserve to enjoy this win.
“What a great feeling.” Bobby Hurley said with a rarely seen smile.
Enjoy it coach, you earned it.