Drew Peterson performs by the ache as USC defeats Arizona State

His again nonetheless ached, the tightness constructing over the again half of an extended season, down the homestretch of an extended faculty profession.

Drew Peterson was not his often limber self. That a lot was sure Saturday night time. The senior’s stiff again had slowed him Thursday and almost sidelined him for USC’s regular-season finale. A report from earlier within the day had gone as far as to declare him out on account of the damage. But when the sector lights went out and the lineups have been introduced, the fifth-year senior jogged gingerly from his place on the bench, as if his presence had by no means been unsure.

This can be Peterson’s final recreation at Galen Center, in spite of everything — an area that, on various events, had bent to his will.

Saturday wouldn’t, nevertheless, be a kind of nights, at the same time as USC managed to slide previous Arizona State 68-65.

Peterson would intestine it out, anyway — a becoming conclusion to a USC profession spent becoming in wherever he was wanted, with out criticism. He’d nonetheless combat for rebounds Saturday, nonetheless drive to the ring, nonetheless whip bullet passes to the wing, the same old emblems of his versatile ability set. But the stiffness had stolen the spark that certain them collectively, leaving Peterson battling by each possession.

He’d end with 9 factors, 5 rebounds and three assists in his finale, a full, but modest line that wouldn’t fairly inform the story of his swan tune at USC.

USC guard Boogie Ellis places up a shot between Arizona State guard Desmond Cambridge Jr. (4) and guard Frankie Collins (10) in the course of the first half. Ellis completed with 28 factors.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

His fellow senior would happily choose up the slack, like he so typically has. Boogie Ellis could have spent one fewer yr right here than Peterson, however over his two seasons as a Trojan, he’d emerged because the unquestioned different half of the staff’s heartbeat.

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Never had that been extra true than this final month, with Ellis within the midst of one of the best stretch of his faculty profession and USC in determined want of a difference-maker. The level guard continued his torrid stretch Saturday, scoring 28 factors to as soon as once more lead USC.

Both seniors would go away a legacy at USC that ought to play for years on an limitless loop within the college’s spotlight reels. Together, they might hit a few of the largest photographs within the largest of moments. But their affect would lengthen far past these temporary blips, with each leaving indelible marks on a basketball program on the rise.

When Arizona State lifted for a last-second shot Saturday, it was Peterson whose hand would lengthen within the shooter’s face.

That end can be too shut for consolation, just like the sloppy observe on which the sport began for USC. The Trojans went 5 minutes with out scoring, throughout which they turned the ball over 5 instances. They added three extra of the sport’s first 13 minutes, throwing errant passes, dribbling off their toes, making ill-fated selections.

But like they’d so many instances earlier than this season, USC settled in. It clamped down on protection, forcing Arizona State to overlook its final dozen photographs earlier than the half. With the Sun Devils struggling, the Trojans coasted into halftime on a 15-2 run.

They’d must sweat it out from there, letting Arizona State shut the hole to a single level within the closing minute. The Sun Devils would have a number of probabilities to tie late, however none would fall.

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The slim win ought to presumably safe the Trojans a spot on the protected facet of the NCAA match bubble, taking a few of the stress off subsequent week’s journey to Las Vegas. USC was already locked into the No. 3 seed for the convention match. It’ll face the winner of sixth-seeded Arizona State vs. Eleventh-seeded Oregon State on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. PST.

How far it goes from there could very effectively rely upon how far its pair of seniors can carry them. Ailing again and all.