After Jamal Hill drilled a 3-pointer against USC's trapping zone press, Arizona State assistant Tony Benford pumped his fist and exhorted the Sun Devils to continue their dismemberment of the Trojans.
Think the Devils were tired of losing to USC?
Playing one of the finest halves of basketball seen in Wells Fargo Arena in a while, the Devils rolled to a shocking 28-point halftime lead on their way to a 108-78 Pac-10 men's basketball victory Thursday night. It was the most points ASU has ever scored against USC.
The Devils totally took the Trojans out of their game and, after spending three days working on USC's defenses, executed their offense to perfection.
The Devils thus began a five-game stretch that includes UCLA, top-ranked Arizona, Stanford and California, with a resounding victory.
Senior guard Curtis Millage led five Devils in double figures with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Freshman center Ike Diogu had 26 points while senior Shawn Redhage added 16 and tied a career best with 12 rebounds off the bench in 27 minutes.
"I thought they came out and did what we asked them to do," ASU coach Rob Evans said of his team's offensive game plan against USC.
"I thought our defense was really solid. We took them out of the sets that they like to run."
If this had been a heavyweight fight, it would have been stopped in the early rounds after the Trojans had hit the deck multiple times.
The Devils (16-7, 8-4 Pac-10) led 15-4 five minutes into the game and 25-8 midway through the first half. By that time, the Trojans had made nine turnovers and missed 10 shots.
Over the final 10 minutes of the half, ASU exploded for 33 points. USC didn't reach double figures until 7:25 on a free throw by Desmon Farmer (29 points).
ASU's sticky defense forced 13 turnovers and harassed the Trojans into 33.3 percent shooting.
The Devils appeared to be particularly wired for a huge night against a team it lost to in nine of the past 10 meetings.
"We came out with a lot of intensity," Millage said.
"Practice was a war," Diogu explained. "The coaching staff told us it would be tough in the game."
As expected, USC (10-10, 5-6) opened in an aggressive 2-3 zone and used various zone presses. None of it worked.
"It wasn't our night," USC coach Henry Bibby said after the Trojans' three-game winning streak was halted.
"My point guards did a good job of attacking the press," Evans said. "We got a lot of easy baskets against the press."
The Devils led 45-12 after the spectacular Diogu converted a three-point play with 4:26 remaining. The appreciative crowd gave the Devils a standing ovation.
The Devils were relentless in taking a 58-30 halftime lead.
USC got as close as 21 points in the second half.
The Devils’ biggest lead was 108-76 with 1:37 remaining. It was a wire-to-wire blowout.
Redhage had his second career double-double. . . .
The game got more physical — and more difficult to call in the second half. After Diogu was whistled for a bumping foul defending the post, the floor was
pelted with ice by angry ASU fans with 16:27 left in the game. Evans grabbed the P.A. microphone and said, "These teams are fighting their guts out. Let the kids play the game." A technical was called on the ASU bench for the ice incident. . . .
Point guard Jason Braxton tied his career best with seven assists. . . .
Diogu is shooting 67.3 percent (76-of-113) in Pac-10 play.