One of Coach Henry Bibby's many maxims is that his bench players are the most important members of his basketball team.
"I'm not wrong too much," Bibby said Monday after practice. "The bench makes a difference in a game. I think our bench [players] are as good as any starters that are out there, when they play and they have their heads in the game the way they did on Saturday night."
That was when Trojan reserves Roy Smiley, Robert Hutchinson, Jerry Dupree, Gregg Guenther and Jonathan Oliver played a combined 70 minutes and outscored the Sun Devils' bench, which played 49 minutes, 22-16, in USC's 76-74 victory.
In USC's 81-72 loss to Arizona two days earlier, Smiley, Hutchinson, Dupree and Kostas Charissis combined for eight points in 50 minutes, and the Wildcats' Isaiah Fox, Hassan Adams, Andre Iguodala and Dennis Latimore had 32 points in 61 minutes.
"The only difference between starting and coming off the bench is that starters are in the game earlier," Oliver said. "Coming off the bench is just as important if not more."
Bibby said Dupree was held out of practice after the junior forward complained of a sore right foot but failed to get treatment Sunday.
"He and I still go to war every day," Bibby said with a grin.
Dupree declined comment but recently said he had no ill will toward Bibby.
"All the [drama] that everybody thinks me and coach have, it's nothing like that," Dupree said. "He just wants me to work and do my best. He wants me to understand that nothing's going to be given to me."
-- Paul Gutierrez