No.  19 USC prepares for Arizona road trip

Junior forward Isaiah Mobley hangs on the rim after a dunk.
Junior forward Isaiah Mobley posted 12 points and 7 rebounds last time out against Arizona State. (Rohan Minocha | Daily Trojan)

The No. 19 USC men’s basketball team will take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe on Thursday. The Trojans defeated Arizona State in their previous meeting, beating them 78-56 in Los Angeles. 

In its last outing against Arizona State, USC overcame a slow start and a 12-point deficit on its way to what became a blowout victory. Senior guard Drew Peterson led the Trojans with 16 points while ASU graduate student guard Marreon Jackson scored a season-high 21 points. 

Jackson scored 15 of his points shooting 41% from behind the 3-point line. Overall, however, Jackson is shooting under 23% on 3-point shots this season. 

Sophomore guards DJ Horne and Jay Heath are the Sun Devils’ best shooters, each with a field goal percentage of 40%. USC’s last opponent, UC Berkeley, posted a 50% 3-point percentage, and the Trojans will look to more effectively defend the 3-point line. 

Conversely, USC struggled to shoot from deep in its game against Cal, only sinking 4 of its 17 3-point shots. 

“Each game is different,” Head Coach Andy Enfield said. “Sometimes, guys don’t make all of their shots, and we have to make sure we take good shots, but we are very good in the paint. I think each team is a little different with matchups and how we attack.”

Peterson spoke about the team’s offensive mentality going into the game against Arizona State. 

“We know they’re really aggressive on defense, so we’re trying to counter that with high ball screens,” Peterson said. 

Peterson is coming off of a 7-point and 3-assist game versus Cal. It was Isaiah Mobley and Boogie Ellis who stole the show against the Golden Bears, each with over 20 points. 

“That’s why we’re so dangerous,” said Peterson of Ellis. “We got so many guys who can step up.” 

Ellis went down after an awkward landing during a dunk attempt in last week’s Stanford game. After limping off the court with assistance, he returned to the game. The guard dispelled any worries about a potential injury with his dominant performance against Cal. 

“It was a good bounce back game,” Ellis said. “We really needed it … it’s always hard to win the next game after a tough loss.” 

Arizona State has proven capable of beating strong teams, as seen in its 69-67 overtime victory at Oregon. The Sun Devils’ defense held Oregon to 18% 3-point shooting and forced 13 turnovers. However, Arizona State is 3-6 since its victory in Eugene. 

USC is currently third in the Pac-12, behind UCLA and Arizona. With eight games remaining in the regular season, USC still has time to climb back to the top of the Pac-12 standings. With a win in Tempe, the Trojans can get back on course after splitting games against Cal and Stanford. 

The Trojans will complete their road trip when they face off against No. 7 Arizona; however, Enfield is focused on the Sun Devils. 

“We usually just prepare for the first game on our schedule, so we won’t prepare for Arizona until Friday,” Enfield said. “It’s going to be a quick turnaround but we’re prepared for Arizona State right now, and we’ll worry about the Wildcats after that game.”