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College Basketball

Trojans Are Fine on the Rebound

January 20, 2002|PAUL GUTIERREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — It's not bragging if you can back it up, right?

After USC was thumped by Arizona, Trojan senior Sam Clancy said he wouldn't have any trouble getting up for Arizona State because he was used to getting routed by the Wildcats before going on to beat the Sun Devils.

Clancy and the Trojans backed up the boast, beating Arizona State, 81-73, Saturday and remained tied for first place in the Pacific 10 Conference.

With the victory in front of 7,686 at Wells Fargo Arena, No. 18 USC improved to 14-3, 6-1 in conference play.

"I thought we bounced back very well and that was a concern of mine," Coach Henry Bibby said of the Trojans, who were pummeled by No. 15 Arizona, 97-80, Thursday.

"We hadn't had a setback like that in a game of that magnitude all season. But it was nice to see Brandon [Granville] step up and have the kind of game he had."

Against Arizona, Granville was held scoreless for the first time since his sophomore year.

Saturday, the Trojans' senior point guard rebounded with a team-high 21 points in 30 minutes. Granville had three assists, one steal and five turnovers, and made 11 of 11 free throws, equaling David Crouse for the second most free throws with no misses in school history.

John Block made 21 of 21 free throws in 1966.

"I knew I'd be all right," Granville said. "Coach just told me to play ball. You can't play [scared], looking over your shoulder all the time. I've been there. I know from experience."

Clancy backed up his words with 20 points and 12 rebounds, his conference-leading ninth double-double of the season, and also blocked five shots and had three steals in 40 minutes.

Senior forward David Bluthenthal finished with 13 points, freshman guard Errick Craven had 12 points in 40 minutes and sophomore guard Desmon Farmer came off the bench to finish with nine points and three assists in 20 minutes.

Arizona State center Chad Prewitt led the Sun Devils with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

The Sun Devils (10-7, 3-5) outshot USC from the field, 43.9% to 41.3%, and in three-pointers, 38.5% to 31.8%, and outrebounded the Trojans, 43-36.

But the Trojans won the game at the free-throw line, making a season-high 84.6% (22 of 26).

The Sun Devils made only 18 of 34 (52.9%) free throws.

USC struggled offensively after getting big leads.

After the Trojans went ahead, 22-9, following a Granville layup at the 14:36 mark, they made only one field goal in the next 4:21.

The Sun Devils, meanwhile, began solving USC's full-court press and began pressing themselves as they pulled within 24-21 on a Prewitt three-pointer with 10:47 to play until the half.

But the Trojans answered with nice ball movement and went on a 10-0 run to take a 34-21 lead on a three-pointer by Craven.

USC managed just two field goals the rest of the half.

Arizona State went on an 18-6 scoring spurt to pull within 40-39 on a Kenny Crandall three-pointer at the 1:20 mark.

A Clancy free throw 15 seconds later gave the Trojans a two-point advantage at halftime.

"We're not executing the way we should be," Clancy said. "We were shooting too many [three-pointers]. That's good when they're going in, but not when you're bricking every shot."

The Sun Devils took the lead fewer than four minutes into the second half when Tommy Smith converted a three-point play to put Arizona State ahead, 48-45. It was the Sun Devils' first lead since opening the game with a three-point basket.

Arizona State's final lead--56-55--came on a Prewitt basket at 12:05.

Over the next seven-plus minutes, though, USC used a swarming trap to create turnovers and get easy baskets, going on a 14-3 run to take a 69-59 lead with 5:16 to play.

Forced to foul, the Sun Devils could only watch as USC made 10 of 11 free throws in the final 54.8 seconds to hold on.

"This is good for us," Bibby said of going 1-1 in the desert. "When you can go on the road and split, it's successful.

"I was very pleased because they kept playing [after blowing the three big leads] and we kept our composure."

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