The Galen Center has been ASU’s house of horror.
Not only have the Sun Devils never won there, but they’ve also been putrid offensively each time, averaging just 47 points per game in four losses.
Saturday was no different.
The Sun Devils (10-18, 2-14 Pac-10) struggled to put the ball in the basket all afternoon, and USC easily rolled to a 62-46 victory.
“It is difficult for most everyone to score points against USC, home or road,” ASU assistant coach Scott Pera said in his postgame radio interview. “We have not had much success in this building, there’s no doubt.”
The first half might have been ASU’s worst of the season.
The Sun Devils made just eight of their 28 field goal attempts and scored a season-low 18 points in the half.
USC (17-12, 9-7) used multiple spurts to build a 38-18 lead before the break.
“It comes down to making shots and scoring every now and then to keep them honest,” Pera said. “It got pretty ugly, and we couldn’t do much to take it away from them.”
USC had its own struggles on the offensive end in the second half, but ASU never threatened to come back from its huge halftime hole.
“You come out to a 5-0 [lead early] and we couldn’t sustain it and we got behind,” Pera said. “It is hard to play from behind against a good team.”
But there were a couple of bright spots for ASU.
Sophomore guard Trent Lockett scored 14 points to lead the Sun Devils, but it was freshman guard Keala King’s career-high 14 points that might have been the silver lining.
“Going into the offseason, it will give him confidence that he can play at this level,” Pera said. “He is more engaged and he is more confident.”
However, other than Lockett and King, nobody else scored more than five points.
Senior guard Jamelle McMillan had a scoreless game, and senior guard Ty Abbott scored just one point.
It was apparent that Abbott, who suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday, was not 100 percent healthy.
Against USC, he was 0-for-7 from field and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
“Ty’s been through a lot this year, and now he’s dealing with this shoulder thing,” Pera said. “He puts the shoulder brace on and it affects his release, and he takes it off and his shoulder hurts. He’s frustrated because he wants to end his career on a good note and he’s not 100 percent.”
USC was led by double-doubles from both of their big men. Junior forward Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and senior forward Alex Stepheson added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Now, the long regular season is down to just two games. Pera said head coach Herb Sendek’s message after the game was to continue pushing forward to finish strong.
“In times of struggle you want to make sure guys are staying locked together and still trying to improve,” Pera said. “We have to keep plugging. It has never been more true than right now.”
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