A Southern California high school standout, Harold Miner is quickly establishing his reputation in college basketball.
Miner has scored 140 points in his last six games, an average of 23.3. He has a total of 215 points in his first 12 games, an average of 17.9, and needs to average 18.6 points in USC's remaining 14 games to surpass the USC freshman scoring record of 475 points, set by Tom Lewis in 1986.
Arizona State Coach Bill Frieder was impressed with Miner, who hit six of 14 shots, including two three-point shots, and made four of six free throws. Miner also had a season-high eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
"Miner's a phenomenal player," Frieder said. "He can rank with the great ones."
Frieder was so impressed with Miner that he designed a box-and-one defense to stop him. But it didn't deter Miner.
"I was just trying to pick my shots and not try to force anything," Miner said. "Since they were boxing me, someone had to be open, so when they converged on me I just tried to kick it out to the open man."
USC Coach George Raveling said he expected Arizona State to play a box-and-one defense against Miner because Arizona had used a similar strategy to keep Miner in check in the second half of a 90-75 victory over USC Thursday night.
"Probably the greatest compliment that's been paid Harold since he's been at USC is that one top 20 team (Arizona) and one Pac-10 team (Arizona State) played a box-and-one on him in back-to-back games," Raveling said. "I don't know how you could get any greater compliment than that. When a top 20 team plays a box-and-one on a freshman, that ought to tell you something about how good they think he is."
The Trojans didn't try to force the ball to Miner, getting a balanced offensive attack from forward Ronnie Coleman (15 points) and guard Robert Pack (13 points, five assists).
USC forward Calvin Banks did a superb job of checking ASU forward Alex Austin, who had scored a career-high 31 points in a 62-53 loss at UCLA Thursday night. Austin scored 17 points, but missed 18 of 25 shots, including 11 of 14 three-point shots.
"The big thing that helped us was Banks' defense on Austin," Raveling said. "I thought Banks took Austin right out of the game. He had a couple of insignificant three-pointers when the game was over."
USC (6-6, 1-4) finally won a Pac-10 game, after losing its first four.
"We needed this win really bad," Raveling said. "If we had lost today, it would have really put a hurt on us."
After being criticized for playing a slowdown offense against UCLA, Arizona State (8-6, 2-4) used the same offense against USC, but abandoned it after USC took a 12-point halftime lead (28-16).
"We were pretty bad," Frieder said.
Arizona State shot just 29.2% in the first half, hitting seven of 24 shots. In fact, the Sun Devils shot better at USC's basket, where they were one for one. Guard Ron Waller accidentally tipped a shot into the Trojan basket at the end of the first half.
Arizona State's offense was hurt by the loss of guard Matt Anderson, sidelined after undergoing knee surgery. Freshman guard Brian Camper replaced Anderson, but was ineffective, missing seven of 11 shots from the floor.
"There's no question that we suffered because of the loss of Matt and now we just have to work extremely hard at developing somebody that can give us some scoring help," Frieder said.
It was the first time that USC's basketball team has played a game at an on-campus arena since Dec. 1, 1953, when the Trojans played San Diego State in the Trojan Gym. USC Coach George Raveling thinks the Trojans should play more games at the 2,200-seat Lyon Center. "It creates an atmosphere for college basketball," Raveling said. "The crowd just gets the players playing harder. We've lost 28 games by six points or less since I've been here and I believe a lot of it is because we don't have a true home-court advantage. But we're going to get one. If (USC President James) Zumberge and (Athletic Director Mike) McGee came to me today and said they were going to switch all our games here for the rest of the season or for years to come it wouldn't bother me."
Arizona State Coach Bill Frieder, who complained before the game about playing in the Lyon Center, said it didn't hurt his team. "I don't (care) where we play," Frieder said. "It certainly didn't affect our outcome. Our play was us and not the building."
Ed O'Bannon, a prep basketball star from Artesia High, attended the game with his teammates. He was saluted by the USC cheerleaders, who unveiled a banner which read: "O'Bannon and Miner in 1991." O'Bannon is considering USC and Arizona State.
USC center Chris Munk has made 23 consecutive free throws, including six against Arizona State. After struggling earlier this season, the Trojans have made 55 of 73 free throws (.753) in their last three games. . . . USC has won four of its last five against Arizona State. . . . Frieder needs one more victory to reach 200. . . . The 59 points scored by ASU were the fewest given up by USC in a Pac-10 game since limiting Cal to 46 in 1988.