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ASU men's basketball defeats USC 66-64 behind Remy Martin go-ahead jumper

The junior guard scored a team-high 22 points including the game-winner

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ASU senior guard Remy Martin (1) dunks the ball during a game against USC on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe.

Junior guard Remy Martin hit a go-ahead jump shot with 19 seconds remaining as ASU men’s basketball defeated USC 66-64 at Desert Financial Arena Saturday night.

The Sun Devils (15-8, 6-4 Pac-12) forced 24 USC turnovers on the evening and held the Trojans (17-7, 6-5) to 33% shooting in the second half.

Martin finished with a team-high 22 points to go with five rebounds and three assists.

“He has worked at his game like no other guy that I have been around,” ASU head coach Bobby Hurley said. “The basketball gods are with him.”

Junior guard Alonzo Verge Jr. scored 16 points and redshirt senior guard Rob Edwards chipped in 11 points for ASU.

The Trojans got off to a hot start following the tip, connecting on four of their first five shots, including two 3-pointers for a quick 10-2 run.

The surge prompted an early timeout from Hurley as ASU was troubled by turnovers and missed second-chance opportunities on offense.

USC’s primary offensive weapon was senior guard Jonah Mathews, who scored 14 of the team’s first 24 points and finished with 17 points in the first half.

ASU continued to struggle to make shots in the half, finishing 34% from the field and 4-14 from long distance. Prior to Saturday’s game, the team was shooting just 26% from three-point range over its last five games.

USC connected on six of 14 3-pointers in the half, four of which were drained by Mathews. The Trojans also took advantage of ASU’s lack of ball control by notching 10 points off nine Sun Devil turnovers.

Verge Jr. was a bright spot for ASU with 13 of the team’s 32 first-half points. He and junior forward Khalid Thomas each drilled a 3-pointer in the final two minutes to cut the USC lead to eight heading into halftime.

The Sun Devils started the second half in aggressive fashion, creating a full-court press to force five USC turnovers in the first five minutes and cut the Trojan lead to a single possession.

ASU began to find its rhythm from deep. The team connected on four of its first six attempts from beyond the arc, one of which was a Rob Edwards pull-up jump shot to give ASU its first lead of the game with 12 minutes remaining.

The Trojans continued to be bullied by ASU’s strong second-half defense, committing 11 turnovers through the first ten minutes leading to 14 Sun Devil points.

“Coach Hurley always has confidence in us,” Verge Jr. said. “We knew that we had to rebound better and stick on defense to pressure the ball more. That’s what we did in the second half and we made them turn the ball over a lot.”

The defense, however, could not translate to consistent offense. ASU entered a scoring drought in which team connected on just one of 17 field goal attempts over a nearly 11-minute stretch.

Despite the scoring troubles, Martin stepped up when the Sun Devils needed it most. With 33 seconds remaining and the game tied at 64, Martin drilled a mid-range jumper to put ASU ahead.

“I knew that a shot was going to be open,” Martin said. “They messed up the guard-to-guard defense and I pulled up and got the roll.”

The Sun Devils then put together one last defensive push as freshman guard Jaelen House blocked a 3-point attempt by Mathews to seal the last minute victory.

The win marked ASU’s third straight and fifth out of its last six.

“At the end of the day, we have to keep it going and stay hungry,” Martin said. “We are going to enjoy this one tonight but we have to get back to the drawing board.”

ASU will look to build on its win streak when the Sun Devils heads to Northern California on Feb. 13 to take on Stanford at 9:00 p.m. MST.

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