USC basketball suffered a second-straight rout in the Bay Area, falling 87-65 to Cal in their final road game of the regular season.
The lowdown: Nikola Jovanovic led the way for USC early, scoring the Trojans first four points from inside the paint. Cal’s Jabari Bird was just as effective from distance, knocking in the Bear’s first two makes beyond the arc.
USC’s bigger line up featuring Chimezie Metu making his second career start paid off as the Trojans out-rebounded Cal 10-6 in the early goings. They also outscored the Bears 22-8 in the paint, including 14 from Jovanovic in the first half.
However, foul trouble for Jovanovic spelled trouble for the Trojans. After tying the game at 26, USC was outscored 12-0 with the forward on the bench, going more than six minutes without a point.
The start of the second half only continued the onslaught as Jaylen Brown’s third three-pointer of the night gave the Bears a commanding 19-point lead.
That lead would grow to 24 when Jordan Mathews hit two consecutive threes early in the half. It would only get worse midway through the second half with Cal taking a 29-point lead.
In the end, Cal finished things out with a Nick Kerr, son of Warrior’s coach Steve Kerr, three pointer and an 87-65 win.
The takeaway: USC’s last chance to salvage their away form proved too difficult a challenge as they dropped a sixth-straight game on the road. Considering Cal’s perfect record at home, the Trojans were fighting an uphill battle to start.
However, the combination of cold shooting and poor defense remains a problem for Andy Enfield’s squad, which is approaching tournament time in a major slump having lost five of their last six.
The Bears were allowed to shoot better than 50% from the field and knocked in nine three pointers.
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The lone bright spot of the night was Jovanovic, whose presence on the inside was a boost for USC when the game was still in range.
Though Jordan McLaughlin had a stronger showing that his rock-bottom performance against Stanford, the guard’s four points were far from enough. Poor shooting and foul trouble for freshmen Chimezie Metu and Benny Boatwright, who finished a combined 0-for-13 on the night, also helped sink the Trojans’ hopes.
Player of the game: Nikola Jovanovic; 21 points, 10-16, 9 rebounds
Stat of the game: Cal had five players score more than 12 points. USC had one.
Next on tap: USC returns home for the penultimate game of the regular season against Oregon State on Wednesday, March 2nd.