USC basketball got revenge for their loss to Washington earlier this season by finishing off the victory at the Galen Center, 98-88.
The lowdown: USC and Washington both struggled to knock down shots in the early-going, especially from distance. Five early turnovers from the Trojans ensured the contest remained close in the opening ten minutes.
However, after starting 0-4 from beyond the arc, USC got hot from three and hit on their next four attempts. With Jordan McLaughlin displaying improved shooting the Trojans went on 15-5 run to take a double-digit lead into the second half.
The Huskies opened the second half with a 6-2 run to cut USC’s lead but the Trojans beat back Washington’s comeback. Then UW took advantage of a scrum in the middle of the court, snatching up the loose ball and hitting an alley-oop. The next possession saw them finish a second lob at the rim to cut USC’s lead to three.
Nikola Jovanovic took command on the inside and carried the Trojans on a run to restore USC’s double-digit advantage.
Though the Huskies continued to challenge, the Trojans answered the call with strong free throw shooting and key drives from McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs.
The takeaway: USC moved to 13-0 at home and moved back into second place in the Pac-12 standings.
The Trojans were exorcise demons against Washington, who overcame a 22-point deficit the last time to the teams met. Though the Huskies threatened to come back again after trailing by double-digits, USC was able to fend off the attempt.
Jovanovic’s season-best performance was a major boost for Andy Enfield’s squad, but perhaps the most important display came from McLaughlin.
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The guard had struggled to make a positive impact in the Trojans last few games after missing time due to illness. However, on Saturday he shot 50% from the field and contributed 21 points with five assists. Having McLaughlin back in confident form will be a boon for USC going forward.
Player of the game: Nikola Jovanovic; 28 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
Stat of the game: USC shot 32-of-37 from the free throw line.
Next on tap: USC will play host to UCLA at the Galen Center on Wednesday, February 4.