LOS ANGELES (AP) — USC has had a difficult December, but it can go into the Christmas break with a little bit of momentum after defeating Southern Utah 91-49 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.
“The guys played very well after having a tough stretch,” said Trojans coach Andy Enfield, who got his 100th win in six years at the school. “We took good shots for most of the night and shared the basketball.”
The 42-point win is USC’s biggest since it won by the same margin against Cal State Fullerton in last season’s opener.
USC (6-6) made 53.7 percent from the field (36 of 67), which marks the first time in six games they have made more than half their shots. Nick Rakocevic scored 21 points and Bennie Boatwright posted the sixth double-double of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Boatwright controlled the lane as the Trojans had a 52-22 advantage in points in the paint. The Trojans led most of the game and were up 39-25 at halftime. They scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half and steadily pulled away, leading by as many as 43 late in the second half.
“We were being aggressive. I had a size advantage tonight and seeing the ball close to the rim is big for me,” Boatwright said.
The Thunderbirds (5-4) — who have dropped three of their last four — came into the game averaging 83.1 points but were held to a season low. They committed a season-high 24 turnovers which led to 33 USC points and shot just 34 percent from the field (18 for 53).
“We were flat. We looked like a tired club out there,” Southern Utah coach Todd Simon said. “We have had a tough non-conference schedule and it showed up tonight.”
Andre Adams led the Thunderbirds with 13 points and Brandon Better added 12.
Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds have lost seven straight against Pac-12 teams. Their last win against a team from the conference was against Washington State in 2003.
USC: The Trojans were better on 3-pointers, going 7 of 17 from beyond the arc. But they have made just 32 percent over the past six games (38 for 118). They started the season 17 of 33 on 3’s in their first six. Jonah Mathews scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
The game was tied at six when USC went on a 13-2 run over a four-minute stretch. The Trojans were four of five from the field as Boatwright scored five points and Mathews added three. Southern Utah scored five straight points before the Trojans ran off 11 straight for a 30-12 lead with 5:43 remaining. Rakocevic scored six during the spurt as USC took advantage of four Southern Utah turnovers.
QUOTE OF NOTE
“Need to get healthy over the break and get ready for Pac-12 play. We need to take some momentum into the second half of the season,” Enfield on his team, with the start of conference play less than two weeks away.
Southern Utah: Opens Big Sky play at home against Montana State on Dec. 29.
USC: Finishes non-conference play when it hosts UC Davis on Dec. 30.
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