Trojans wear out Sun Devils in 89-71 home win

Freshman forward Evan Mobley reached at least 20 points for the seventh time this season in USC’s win over Arizona State Wednesday. (Simon Park | Daily Trojan)

The first time freshman forward Evan Mobley noticed he was being double teamed on Wednesday night, he hit his brother sophomore forward Isaiah Mobley for the open layup. The two exchanged a look, seemingly as if to communicate that Arizona State’s defense would give them that look for the rest of the game. They exploited this pocket repeatedly, finding their rhythm and propelling the No. 17 USC Trojans to a 89-71 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils at the Galen Center Wednesday night. 

“We had a feel for each other,” Evan said. “I fed [Isaiah] a lot of my assists … Anytime I got in the post, his man would come over, I would see him for a quick second, I trust him … and it was an easy layup every time.”

The Trojans’ blowout win completed their season sweep over the Sun Devils and pushed them to 18-3, a record that the team hasn’t hit since the 1973-74 season. Evan and Isaiah Mobley finished with 22 and 20 points, respectively — a career high for Isaiah — and senior guard Tahj Eaddy chipped in with another 18 points. 

The interior play between the Mobley brothers was a sight to see as their passes to one another darted through tight passing lanes to set them up for high percentage performance inside looks. Evan finished with seven assists, five of which were to his brother.

“I thought Evan was really good at reading the defense,” Enfield said. “That’s what he’s capable of doing. He’s had many games this year where he should’ve had two or three more assists, in each game, just because our guards miss open shots. But tonight the guys were making shots for him … He looked like Tom Brady with the ball in his hands, just reading the defense and making the right play.”

ASU senior guard Remy Martin was tough to guard for a majority of the night, with a repertoire of stepbacks, drives and tough shots resulting in a 30-point finish. He leads the Pac-12 in scoring this season, and his efforts kept the Sun Devils, who were only down 46-44 at the halftime break, in the game.

“Remy played like an all-league player,”  Enfield. “He was hot tonight. It’s very hard to guard him one-on-one because when he’s making his stepbacks shots, he’s so quick with the ball … But we also know it’s a team game, so we thought that we could challenge everybody else’s shots at the same time.” 

Foul trouble, especially for interior players such as ASU sophomore forward Jalen Graham, allowed the Mobley brothers to run the game in the paint. Ultimately, it was the Trojan defense that sharpened up and led to USC pulling away in the second half. 

“The first half was very uncharacteristic of our team,” Enfield said. “I didn’t think we had that juice in our step defensively. The defense in the second half was what we were accustomed to and what we expect out of our team.” 

The Sun Devils came into the game missing multiple players due to injury. Running a seven-man rotation throughout the game, it was evident that fatigue set in as the game carried on and they weren’t able to keep the game close.

“You gotta show up and play with who you have,” Enfield said. “Arizona State certainly did that. The guys they had on the court were very good players; we just had to guard who was out there and play as hard as we could.”

The Trojans are now on a seven game winning streak and have won 13 of their last 14 games.  USC will stay at home to face Arizona this Saturday at Galen Center. Tip off is at 3 p.m.

“It’s definitely been an excellent ride so far, even through the bumps and the mud,” Isaiah said. “I’m glad that I’m picking it up now. Hopefully we can ride this thing out, keep winning like this and make a run in the tournament.”