The USC Trojans took an early 17-10 lead over the Colorado Buffaloes, but struggled from that point forward, letting a victory slip from their fingers.
In the high altitude of the Coors Event Center the Trojans came out firing, making 8-11 shots to begin the game; silencing the 10,344 fans in attendance.
In the first road test of Pac-12 play, the USC Trojans (6-10, 1-2) came out aggressive in the early moments of both halves. What ultimately doomed the strong effort was a season-high 22 turnovers.
Although losing by six, the Trojans were down by double-digits for large stretches of the game. After the Trojans early surge, the Buffaloes never looked back in the second half finishing the half on a 31-9 run to lead by 15 at half time.
In a game best summarized by runs, the Colorado Buffaloes did just enough in the middle part of the ball game to stifle the Trojans upset bid.
USC was able to slow down the pace for most of the contest, led by the play of their seven-footers. Dewayne Dedmon scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds, one rebound short of his second-straight double double.
Omar Oraby scored six points and grabbed four rebounds, but only logged 10 minutes after getting in early foul trouble. Eric Wise, the 6’6″ forward who plays like a seven-footer, led the Trojans with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Colorado made a change to their starting lineup, playing freshmen Xavier Jonson in the place of Andre Roberson. Johnson scored seven points in 23 minutes, struggling to control the game with his size and athleticism. Josh Scott picked up the load for the Buffaloes, registering 14 points on 6-7 shooting from the field.
Sabatino Chen, the guard who nailed the reviewed three-point shot against Arizona, played tremendously against the depleted Trojans backcourt. Chen scored six fast break points, ending the night with 10 points and four steals.
The Trojans played well in many facets of the game, but failed miserably in the turnover department. The Trojans 22 turnovers, not even counting the bad shots that led to fast break points, turned the game into a sloppy track meet.
Jio Fontan left the contest late in the first half, and did not return for the rest of the contest. Chass Bryan and Byron Wesley took over the role of point-guard in the second half. With their leader out, the Trojans slowed down the high-paced Buffaloes attack.
After playing no minutes in the first half, JT Terrell started the second half for USC. Terrell scored 11 points, but shot 2-8 from behind the arc. The issue for Terrell was that he continued to take difficult shots, placing the transition defense out of position.
When things looked like they were headed for another road debacle, down 16 with six minute to play, the Trojans responded for the best. Chass Bryan and JT Terrell sparked the final surge, cutting the lead to as close as six with 17 seconds to play.
In a play that perfectly summates the Trojans season, USC stole the ball but Byron Wesley missed a short layup. Bryan then grabbed the rebound and J.T. Terrell fired a three-point shot long. The continued perimeter struggles reared its ugliest head for the Trojans in the final moment of this game.
On a bright note, USC scored 60-plus points for the third consecutive Pac-12 play. In the end however, the second-ranked team in the Pac-12 in not turning the ball over, could not capitalize on a great opportunity to notch a marquee road victory.
On Saturday, USC will travel to Salt Lake City to face a resiliant Utah Utes squad (8-7, 0-3) that lost to UCLA 57-53 on Thursday Night.