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ASU loses tough Pac-10 battle with USC

February 02, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Taj Gibson had 19 points and seven rebounds, freshman O.J. Mayo also scored 19, and USC took command early in the second half to beat Arizona State 67-53 on Saturday night for its fifth win in six games.

Freshman Davon Jefferson had 11 points and nine rebounds and Dwight Lewis scored 10 for the Trojans (14-7, 5-4 Pac-10).

Freshman James Harden shot 8-for-9 including 3-for-4 from 3-point range and scored 26 points before fouling out with 1:02 left to lead ASU. Jeff Pendergraph added 10 points and five rebounds for the Sun Devils (14-7, 4-5), who lost their fifth straight game.

USC's Daniel Hackett played despite the hip pointer he sustained early in Thursday night's 80-69 loss to Arizona, and had two points and three rebounds. He rode a stationary bike near the USC bench to stay loose when he wasn't in the game.

Neither team led by more than four points until the Trojans outscored the Sun Devils 15-2 for a 51-40 lead with a little over 10 minutes left. Mayo scored seven points and Lewis added six during the run, which came with Harden on the bench with four fouls.

The Trojans extended their lead to 13 points on a free throw by Mayo with 7:17 to play after ASU coach Herb Sendek was hit with a technical foul.

Two free throws by Pendergraph and five straight points by Harden made it 56-50, but Mayo scored four points in a span of 10 seconds to extend USC's lead to 10 points with 2:26 remaining, and ASU didn't threaten after that.

The Trojans shot 23-for-45 to ASU's 18-for-45 and outrebounded the Sun Devils 29-21.

USC led 30-26 at halftime behind Gibson's 13 points and five rebounds. With Hackett out of the game and riding the bike to begin the second half, the Sun Devils outscored the Trojans 10-2 for a four-point lead. Hackett sat out the first 7 1/2 minutes of the half before returning.

Harden, held to nine points in ASU's 84-51 loss at No. 5 UCLA two nights earlier, matched that total in the first 11 1/2 minutes of this game. Harden attended Artesia High in nearby Lakewood.

Mayo picked up two fouls in the opening five minutes, but USC coach Tim Floyd, playing with a short bench, opted to keep his star on the floor for all but two minutes of the first half. It worked out, since Mayo picked up only one foul the rest of the way.