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Gibson says season is wearing him down

Times Staff Writer

His production having appreciably tailed off over the last three games, forward Taj Gibson acknowledged Sunday evening that he was wearing down a bit toward the end of an otherwise impressive freshman season.

Gibson missed all seven shots and went scoreless for the first time in his college career during the No. 22 Trojans’ 68-58 loss to Arizona State at Wells Fargo Arena, though he did grab 10 rebounds.

“At times I’m a little banged up,” said Gibson, who has eight double-doubles but none since Jan. 4. “It’s just all around on my body.... This is rough.”

Gibson’s numbers have dipped in recent weeks since he scored 18 points against Oregon on Feb. 3. He had eight points and nine rebounds against UCLA on Feb. 7 but then had only two points and three rebounds against Arizona on Thursday, fouling out of both games.

“I’m just a team player trying to fight through it every night, trying to help my team,” Gibson said. “It’s a long season, it’s my first year, so it’s kind of tough.”

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USC Coach Tim Floyd credited Sun Devils big men Jeff Pendergraph and Serge Angounou with a strong defensive effort to shut down Gibson.

“Those kids were long and they were in passing lanes and they did a good job,” Floyd said.

Gibson is averaging 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.

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With the Sun Devils about to end a school-record 15-game losing streak, the crowd of 6,758 savored the final minutes of the team’s first victory since defeating North Carolina A&T; on Dec. 21.

Students clad in yellow T-shirts stormed the court after the final buzzer.

“A lot lesser group of fans could have been at home watching ‘Desperate Housewives’ tonight, and so it was heartening to see such a great crowd out here to see us get this one,” Sun Devils Coach Herb Sendek said.

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A victory over the Sun Devils would have enabled USC to sweep Arizona and Arizona State in the same season for the first time since the desert schools joined the Pacific 10 Conference before the 1978-79 season.... Sophomore forward Keith Wilkinson made his first start since the Washington State game on Dec. 30 but went scoreless with three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.... The victory over the Trojans was the Sun Devils’ first over a ranked opponent since beating No. 19 Memphis on March 20, 2003, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Arizona State had dropped 22 consecutive games against ranked opponents.

ben.bolch@latimes.com


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