USC smothers Harden, Arizona StateJan 16, 2009 - 7:51 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Southern California bedeviled James Harden and used a second-half surge to upend No. 15 Arizona State, 61-49, on Thursday in a Pac-10 Conference clash.
The Trojans stifled Harden, the Sun Devils' star guard, holding the 6-5 sophomore without a field goal on his first eight shots. He didn't score until 7:43 remained in the game, connecting on a pair of free throws. Harden finished with four points after coming in averaging 23.1 per game.
Much of the credit for Harden's unhappy homecoming - he is from Los Angeles - is due Daniel Hackett. The 6-5 junior took Harden out of his game and contributed far more than the four points - coincidentally also on free throws - and six assists in the box score.
"Daniel didn't have a field goal and played the finest game I have had from a player since I came to USC," coach Tim Floyd told the Los Angeles Times.
With Harden under wraps, USC used a 9-0 run to break away from a 40-40 tie and did not look back. After Harden hit two free throws, Taj Gibson, Keith Wilkinson and DeMar DeRozan each had three points in the tear that broke the game open.
Overall, USC outscored Arizona State, 42-23, in the final 20 minutes to overcome a 26-19 halftime deficit.
"We were down seven and we hadn't made a shot," Floyd told the newspaper. "I knew we were going to start making some."
DeRozan, a 6-7 freshman, paced the Trojans (11-5, 2-2 Pac-10) with 22 points. Dwight Lewis added 18 despite coming off the bench for the first time this season.
Overall, USC connected on 20-of-47 (43 percent) shots and 7-of-17 (41 percent) from beyond the arc.
Hackett, however, was the hero for his work on Harden.
"I stayed body to body to him," Hackett told the Los Angeles Times. "I tried to make him take the tough shots. I had a lot of help from Taj and other guys. We were able to frustrate him."
The Sun Devils (14-2, 3-2) were paced by Rihards Kuksiks with 16 points. Kuksiks scored 12 of his points before intermission, hitting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He missed his only long-range shot after the break.
Overall, Arizona State hit only 15-of-45 (33 percent) of its shots from the field.
"They face-guarded James everywhere he went," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek told the Arizona Republic. "They took away his shots and were willing to give other guys shots."
The Sun Devils continue their three-game road trip with a visit to UCLA on Saturday. They close the journey against Arizona on January 21.
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