Photo by Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
USC Basketball

Mathews, Rakocevic lead the way as USC cruises to 93-84 win over Wazzu

February 2, 2019

PULLMAN - Coming off a tough loss against Washington in Seattle, USC (13-9, 6-3) salvaged their trip to the Evergreen State with a 93-84 win over Washington State (8-14, 1-8) . The Trojans shot a season-high 59% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc. USC never trailed in this game and the victory marked their first road conference win of the season.

Though the Trojans clicked on all cylinders offensively throughout the night, it was their defense that set the tone early on. They held Washington State scoreless for the first five minutes of the half on 0/10 shooting and broke out to an early 11-0 lead. Washington State would end up breaking out of their shooting slump, and even drew within 26-21 before USC responded with a run with their own to take a 47-33 halftime lead. Andy Enfield’s unit shot a blazing 63% in the first half.

The 2nd half got off to a chippy start as Washington State tried to get back into the game. Redshirt junior Derryck Thornton had to exit the game momentarily after taking a shot from a Washington State player to the throat and the usually mild-mannered Shaqquan Aaron was whistled for a technical foul after jawing with the Cougars’ Josh Elleby.

And although it never felt as though USC was going to relinquish the lead, there were points where the home team made it interesting throughout the 2nd half. Robert Franks, the Pac-12’s leading scorer at 21 points per game, poured in 25 points and backup point guard Ahmed Ali was a spark-plug off the bench for the Cougars, finishing with 18 points and 7 assists.

Despite Washington State’s resilient effort, USC was simply too efficient and too precise offensively to be beaten on Saturday afternoon. Jonah Mathews, who finished with 20 points, was on fire all night hitting 6 of his 7 attempts from three and Nick Rakocevic dominated in the paint once again, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double for the season. They were two of four Trojan starters(Thornton and Boatwright) who reached double figures and the quintet outscored the Cougars’ starters 83-37.

Aside from the win, another encouraging devleopment in this game was freshman Kevin Porter Jr.’s performance. Although he finished with just 8 points and 5 rebounds, Porter was visibly more engaged than usual. The projected lottery pick finished a perfect 3-3 from the field, including a huge three-pointer that increased USC’s lead from 9 to 12 with about four minutes left in the game. 

Following Saturday’s win, USC will return home to the friendly confines of the Galen Center to play the Utah Utes on Wednseday(02/06) at 8:00. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 network.



Tags: Basketball
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