USC basketball vs. Arizona score, recap: Blowout keeps Trojans alive in Pac-12 Tournament

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC basketball advanced to the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament with a blowout victory over Arizona in Las Vegas, 78-65.

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The lowdown:

Arizona started quick, opening the game 5-0 before Shaqquan Aaron put in USC’s first basket.

Freshman Elijah Weaver knocked down two three-pointers to keep it close for the Trojans. Then Derryck Thornton’s six quick points off the bench further fueled an 18-2 run which saw USC jump out to a 23-12 lead past the halfway point of the opening period.

Though the Trojans enjoyed control of the game for much of the first half, Arizona ripped off a 16-6 run going into the break. Jonah Mathews popped up with a timely triple to momentarily restore USC’s cushion as the two-minute mark approached. However, Arizona’s Ryan Luther tied the game at 38.

The Wildcats even took the lead on Brandon Randolph’s layup but Thornton hit a jumper with five seconds left to send the game into the half tied at 40.

The Trojans were back in control at the start of the second half. Bennie Boatwright’s scoring boosted USC to a 50-43 advantage after five minutes.

The next five minutes were all USC as well. The Trojans ripped off a 18-2 run, including an Aaron and-one, as they grew the lead to 63-45.

Again, USC was faced with the task of defending a big lead in the final 10 minutes of the half.

This time, no push from Arizona came. The Trojans enjoyed a 17-point lead at the five-minute mark and didn’t let it slip away. They won 78-65.

The takeaway:

Boatwright led the way for the Trojans with 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He also led both teams with 10 rebounds and four assists. It was the kind of performance that should give USC hope of advancing even further into the Pac-12 Tournament.

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Thornton also delivered 12 points while Aaron came up with 11 by shooting an efficient 5-of-6.

The surprise is blowing out Arizona despite a quite outing from Nick Rakocevic. He finished with six points and two rebounds with four fouls.

The Trojans shot 48.3 percent from the field as a whole on a day when their scoring set them apart. The Wildcats by comparison came away shooting 40.4 percent in the game, but just 32.3 percent in the second half.

The win keeps USC’s hopes of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament alive.

Next on tap: USC will have their toughest test of the tournament, facing No. 1-seed Washington on Thursday at 12:00 p.m.