Trojans scorched by Sun Devils

USC dropped its third straight conference game in a 62-53 loss to Arizona State. The Trojans returned to the Galen Center Thursday night following road losses to California and Stanford to host the first of three straight home games.

Despite trailing the Sun Devils by as much as 12 points in the first half, the Trojans managed to force 18 turnovers on an Arizona State team that played only six scholarship players.

“We did a great job at forcing 18 turnovers, 20 more shots than your opponents but we didn’t have the energy to start the game and finish plays that we normally have” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said.

Arizona State had suspended three rotation players, including leading scorer Keala King. O’Neill stated after the game that the news of the suspension did not change the game plan set for USC.

“Have to give ASU credit, they suspend a couple of guys, band together and play their best game of the year; they deserved to win” O’Neill said. “They outplayed us and that happens a lot of times.”

Sophomore guard Maurice Jones played the entire game against the Sun Devils. Jones leads the country in minutes, and before Thursday, was averaging 38 minutes per game.

“I’m sure he was tired, playing that amount of minutes, but we don’t really have any choice” O’Neill said. “I’d like to put him on the bench a little bit, but we need him out there.”

Maurice Jones finished the contest with 13 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 3 steals. Jones also was 4 for 4 at the free throw line. “We go where Mo [Jones] goes” O’Neill said. “It didn’t go well for him tonight and it didn’t go well for our team either.”

Junior forward Aaron Fuller posted 14 points for the USC, leading the team.

“Once they got us down, they [controlled] the tempo of the game, making us work for everything” O’Neill said. “They did a good job at running their offense and we weren’t able to generate enough offense on our end to win the game.”

USC falls to 5-11 overall and 0-3 in Pac-12 conference play. The Trojans will host the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Wildcats (10-5, 1-1) are coming off of a 65-58 loss to UCLA. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.