We went to Arizona State's men's basketball game against USC last night (love those early starting times), and were treated to an intense, if rarely artistic, battle between two evenly matched Pac-10 teams.
The Trojans came into the Wells Fargo Arena with a three-game losing streak, and with nothing to play for but pride (their season will end against Arizona tomorrow), it remained to be seen how much heart they would show.
Answer: a lot.
To the contrary, the Sun Devils were in a proverbial must-win situation, and incentive wasn't the issue:
A loss practically would have guaranteed that the Tempe boys would have to win the Pac-10 postseason tournament next week in Los Angeles to secure a berth in the NCAA's.
Hot three-point shooting by Rihards Kuksiks (in an open display of male affection for shorter teammate Ty Abbott in the photo) spelled the difference for ASU, as the Devils edged the Trojans by a score of 59-54.
The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds.
USC had a chance to tie the game on its last possession with a trey, but senior Dwight Lewis (seems like he's been a Trojan for a decade or so) inexplicably drove the lane, perhaps hoping to draw a foul as he tossed up a prayer.
But big Eric Boateng swatted the shot away and ended USC's hopes.
We appreciated the gritty play of Trojans' point guard Mike Gerrity, a well-traveled senior whose season (and college career) will end prematurely tomorrow because of the sins of those who came before him, i.e. previous Coach Tim Floyd.
Floyd was a big-time cheater (google O.J. Mayo) who came a whisker from landing the head job in Tucson last year. He's now an assistant coach for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets (nice!).
ASU plays the weakest UCLA Bruins team in years tomorrow at 2 p.m., in a game to be televised nationally on CBS (Channel 5 in this market).