Men’s basketball falls to Arizona State, drops to fifth

first_imgSenior guard Jonah Mathews scored a team-high 22 points in the Trojans’ loss to Arizona State. USC is now 6-5 against Pac-12 opponents. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu is averaging 16.4 points per game this season but only scored 5 against Arizona State. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) A last effort 3-point attempt from senior guard Jonah Mathews did not fall for USC after ASU took a 2-point lead with 19 seconds remaining. Mathews may have been fouled on the play but did not receive a call, capping off a disappointing Grand Canyon State road trip. “I take the blame for the loss,” head coach Andy Enfield said. “I could’ve done a few things differently tonight, so we win and lose together.”  The Trojans got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 15-7 lead in the first five minutes of the game as the Sun Devils had a hard time making their shots fall in the first half. The Trojans took advantage of Arizona State’s missed opportunities, going into halftime with an 8-point lead. It did not take long out of the break for the Sun Devils to get going, however, as ASU crawled back and took its first lead of the game with 12 minutes remaining. USC tried to keep the game close but fell apart in the final two minutes of the game, giving up a 7-0 run to close things out. USC has now lost three straight after starting the season 17-4.  USC will look to avenge the disappointing loss when it returns home to take on the Washington Huskies at Galen Center Thursday at 6 p.m. “Our big guys had their share of turnovers just like our guards, so we have to do a better job of playing team basketball,” Enfield said. “We try to break the press and try to score out of it … but with 24 turnovers, it’s just too many.”center_img The biggest difference in the game for the Trojans was the Sun Devils’ game plan against freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu. The Sun Devils limited Okongwu, who was recently named a finalist for the 2020 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the nation’s top collegiate center, to only 5 points. In addition, USC turned the ball over an astonishing 24 times, giving ASU extra possessions. Both teams would finish with 42 rebounds and eight 3-pointers. USC finished with a 41.8% shooting percentage while ASU finished at 31.3%. Even though the Trojans shot at a better rate than the Sun Devils, they could not find a way to capitalize when it mattered most. “I thought we lost our composure midway through the second half, and then they took the lead and I thought we regained [composure],” Enfield said.  “And then we retook the lead and then we made a couple of big mistakes and then we threw the ball away … We have to execute.” The Pac-12 has been interesting of late, as both No. 14 Oregon and No. 23 Arizona lost Saturday as well. With seven more regular-season conference games to go for USC, the Trojans still have an outside chance to compete for the Pac-12 regular-season championship and could earn a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament by securing a top-four finish. The Sun Devils, who entered Saturday’s game with a 5-4 conference record and a two-game win streak, entered the game with a chance to move ahead of the Trojans in the Pac-12. On the other hand, USC knew that this game — especially with it being on the road — was crucial for its NCAA Tournament hopes. The USC men’s basketball team could not find a way to pull out a win against the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday night, losing 66-64 in Tempe, Ariz.  “We’re inconsistent in general,” Enfield said. “We’re a good team but we have inconsistencies in some things we do like turn the ball over, like shooting open shots. There are certain things we’ve done this year that make us inconsistent offensively and defensively, but we’re still a good team.”last_img

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