USC basketball posted a second-straight blowout at the Galen Center, blasting Arizona, 80-57, with a mouth-watering performance on Thursday night.
Nick Rakocevic started the game with an opening possession layup and he would put up points on each of USC’s first three possessions.
Kevin Porter Jr., who had missed two games due to suspension, wasted no time making an impact. He knocked down a three-pointer on his first attempt as USC surged ahead of Arizona. An 8-0 run later, the Trojans led 24-10 midway through the first half.
Arizona had no answer for USC’s zone and struggled to match the Trojans on the scoreboard, going 2-of-18 to end the first half.
Though the Wildcats’ Devonaire scored a layup on their final possession, Derryck Thornton banked in a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put an exclamation point on a 17-point lead at halftime, 36-19.
The second half didn’t change much for the Trojans or the Wildcats.
When USC went scoreless for nearly four minutes, Arizona was unable to capitalize because of a scoreless stretch of their own. The drought for the Trojans was broken by a wild fastbreak layup by Rakocevic.
Porter Jr. hit consecutive three-pointers while USC built their lead as large as 23 points at 65-42.
USC dominated Arizona from start to finish, which is not a statement one has the opportunity to write very often, in basketball at least.
The Trojans have had fast starts before, but they have rarely maintained a lead quite like they did against the Wildcats, who were effectively stifled on both ends. Every scoring surge was easily matched, and there weren’t many as USC held the Arizona to 27.8 percent from the field.
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As Rakocevic goes, so goes USC, so it should come as no surprise that the Trojan big man, who started 6-of-6 from the field, was exceptional in the victory. Matching his career-high of 27 points, he posted a double-double with 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Bennie Boatwright was also on the double-double train, matching his 12 points with 12 rebounds on a quiet, but still effective night.
Another member of the 12 crew was Jonah Mathews, who continued to lift his scoring presence for the Trojans. He has now posted double-digits in nine of USC’s last 10 games, hitting 3-of-5 three point attempts on Thursday night.
Of course, the headliner was Porter Jr., whose three three-pointers helped him finish second on the team with 14 points. Though he still needs time to regain his explosiveness after a long-ish layoff, as evidenced by two missed dunk attempts from point-blank, the freshman flashed the talent which could turn USC into a contender in the Pac-12 as the season progresses.
Arizona figured to be a major test for the Trojans and they passed with flying colors. Granted, the absence of Arizona’s injured starting center Chase Jeter may have benefited USC, but they had a similar advantage against the Tres Tinkle-less Oregon State Beavers and still found a way to lose.
Next on tap: USC will have the chance to defend their home court once more against the ASU Sun Devils on Saturday, January 26 at 5:00 p.m.