GAME NOTES: The Arizona State Sun Devils take aim at win No. 13 on the season, as they hit the road to tangle with the USC Trojans on Thursday night in a Pac-12 duel at the Galen Center.
After stumbling in the league opener against Washington, the Sun Devils got back on track with a convincing 66-47 rout of Washington State this past Sunday. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Arizona State, which is 12-3 overall, including a 2-0 mark in limited road experiences. The Sun Devils will remain in Los Angeles to face UCLA next.
It was that same UCLA squad that trampled USC, 107-73, the last time the Trojans were on the floor. The setback ended a brief two-game win streak for USC, which is 9-5 overall in its first season under head coach Andy Enfield. The Trojans have been very difficult to stop at home, where they are 7-0 and will again be on Sunday against top-ranked Arizona.
These teams split the season series a year ago, with the host squad coming out on top each time. Arizona State has still won three of the last four matchups, but trails in the all-time series, 50-38.
Led by a game-high 26 points from Jermaine Marshall, the Sun Devils were easily able to take down Washington State the last time out. Arizona State limited the Cougars to just 34 percent shooting, while outscoring them by a 19-7 margin off turnovers.
Marshall (15.4 ppg) is a pure scorer, who has excelled in his transition after playing three seasons at Penn State. The 6-foot-4 guard has scored 20 points in five games this season, although he had just four points in the team's loss to Washington. Jahii Carson (18.7 ppg, 4.9 apg) is still the main attraction, at least as far as scoring goes. Carson finished with 14 points on a 4-of-11 shooting effort against Washington State for one of his more pedestrian showings. Jordan Bachynski (12.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 4.9 bpg) provides the scoring in the paint, but is best known as the nation's leader in blocked shots.
Rivalry games are usually contentious affairs, but the Trojans' run-in with UCLA was far from it. USC only connected on 41.9 percent of its shots from the floor, while turning the ball over 17 times. Byron Wesley did score 21 points for the Trojans, but three players scored at least 20 points for the Bruins.
Wesley (17 ppg, 7.2 rpg) has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Enfield's system, at least in terms of offensive style. The junior guard is shattering his career averages of 11.1 ppg and 5.1 rpg this season, and he has scored at least 20 points in three straight games. There is no one on the roster nearly as prolific in the scoring department, although Pe'Shon Howard (11 ppg, 4.4 apg), J.T. Terrell (10.8 ppg) and Nikola Jovanovic (10 ppg, 5.6 rpg) give the Trojans some options. Terrell was able to net 14 points against UCLA, but on just 5-of-16 shooting from the floor.
Getting back to their home floor should help the Trojans after the debacle against UCLA. However, Bachynski will force them to be more of a jump-shooting team, which isn't USC's game, as it is one of the weaker shooting teams in the league, especially from beyond the arc.
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