USC basketball lost their third game in a row on Saturday night, falling to the Oklahoma Sooners after a slow start in Tulsa, 81-70.
The Sooners opened up a five-point lead early before freshman Elijah Weaver forced a turnover and put up a long jumper. Unfortunately that was USC’s only make in their opening 10 attempts as Oklahoma went up 10-2.
After Weaver came down wrong on his ankle on a driving floater and limped straight to the locker room, the Trojans completed an 11-2 run capped by Jordan Usher’s jumper to take the lead at 13-12.
Two quick dunks pulled Oklahoma back ahead and the Sooners advantage would only grow as they exploded on a 12-2 run, leading 23-14.
USC’s attempts to again close the gap before the stroke of halftime were far from adequate. Oklahoma opened a 15-point lead before Jonah Mathews knocked down a three at the buzzer to make it 40-28 at the break.
Things turned around greatly to start the second half. Mathews continued his hot streak with another triple while the Trojans outscored the Sooners 11-4 in the opening five minutes. They cut the deficit to 44-39 in that span.
As before, USC’s surge was met by Oklahoma. The Sooners ripped off a 12-1 run to restore their lead at 63-48.
Oklahoma’s advantage bloomed to 18 at its highest, though the Trojans rode a burst of energy from Bennie Boatwright and a three-pointer from Jordan Usher to get as close as eight points with one minute left on the clock.
The late comeback attempt was simply too-little, too-late. Oklahoma closed out the game winning 81-70.
USC has now lost three games in a row. Though competitive against Nevada, the Trojans were blown away by TCU and smothered by Oklahoma during the skid.
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Once again, a slow start gave the opposition the upper hand and attempts to recover from that early set back simply couldn’t be sustained.
Boatwright’s poor shooting night didn’t help matters. The senior finished 3-of-13, hitting his first shot of the game halfway though the second half.
The absence of star freshman Kevin Porter Jr. because of injury has remained an issue, but USC’s early reliance on his talent was a red flag to begin with considering the veterans that remained on the roster coming into this season.
The most consistent performer among those veterans was still Nick Rakocevic, who led the Trojans with 17 points on the night along with 15 rebounds. Mathews added 11 while Usher had 10 as the only other USC players in double figures.
Stat of the game: The two teams combined for 35 turnovers.
Next on tap: USC will stay on the road, looking to avoid a four-game losing streak as they take on Santa Clara (5-6) on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7:00 p.m.