Pruitt is getting back to his pocket-picking days of yesteryear. He had a season-high four steals to lead USC’s defensive effort in Thursday’s 80-75 win over Arizona, giving him eight steals in the past three games. “It’s just anticipation,” Pruitt said. “I saw a couple opportunities that I was able to get out in the passing lanes and get them. I kind of got away from it a little bit, but we’re at a real critical point of the season.” Pruitt, seventh on USC’s all-time steals list with 132, averaged 2.2 steals per game last season but had made just 13 through his first 12 games this season. USC can reach 20 victories and 10 conference wins by beating Arizona State, numbers that are usually seen as the benchmark for making the NCAA tournament out of the Pac-10. “The coaches talk, and they say two more wins probably seals it,” Pruitt said. “I think our record right now should be good enough to make the tournament, but just to be on the safe side we’ve got to get a couple more wins.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “You can’t sleep against those guys because every game they are there at the end,” junior guard Gabe Pruitt said. “We’re really concerned about coming in and playing against those guys.” The Sun Devils have stayed in games despite inferior talent because of the way they slow down the pace and create defensive battles. “I expect them to be where Washington State is in two years because they’re just so tough to play against,” Floyd said. “They play smart, play so well defensively and take such great shots. As their talent continues to improve, they are going to be right in the thick of (the Pac-10).” With Arizona State coming so close so often, most USC players and personnel don’t think the Sun Devils will go through conference play winless. “They’re going to get that one game,” junior guard Nick Young said. “We just don’t want it to be against us.” “It’s been the only time all year we’ve talked outside our next game,” USC coach Tim Floyd said. “We’ve talked more about Arizona State this week than we have Arizona because we knew the effort would be there for Arizona.” Arizona State has lost its past five games by six points or less, three against ranked opponents. The Sun Devils had No. 5 UCLA down by 10 with 11 minutes left Thursday before falling, 67-61. PHOENIX, Ariz. – There might not be a more fearsome last-place team in any conference than Arizona State. The Sun Devils (6-19, 0-14), USC’s opponent today, have yet to win a game in Pac-10 play but are in almost all of them. Trojans players have been warned about a letdown all week.