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USC Basketball

USC uses second half surge to secure 78-65 first round win over Arizona

March 13, 2019
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LAS VEGAS - Despite failing their quest to secure a top four seed in the Pac-12 tournament, the 8th-seed Trojans took the first step to securing an automatic NCAA tournament bid with a 78-65 win over the 9th-seed Arizona. The game was a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Tournament final where the Wildcats trounced the Trojans 75-61 behind 32 points from DeAndre Ayton.

The early part of the first half was a struggle for the Trojans on both sides of the ball. USC scored just five points in the first few minutes of the half and allowed Arizona to get easy shots and jump out to a 10-5 lead. With the starters floundering, Andy Enfield subbed in Derryck Thornton in place of Elijah Weaver.

The move paid immediate dividends for Coach Enfield as Thornton was the catalyst for a 15-2 run that helped USC lead by as much as 11 in the first half. Thornton scored 10 points and had 2 steals in just 7 minutes of action in the first half while Bennie Boatwright also pitched in 10 points in in the opening period.

“It’s March and you have to win to survive,” Thornton said. “Our team is really understanding that and playing hard so that we can go as far as we can go.”

Although the Trojans went on a strong run, Arizona was able to battle back into the game behind 11 points from freshman Brandon Williams and 10 points from graduate transfer Ryan Luther. The Wildcats hit their final 6 shots from the field and finished the half on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 40 going into halftime.

In the second half, the Trojans came out firing with a 16-2 run and never looked back. Led by Bennie Boatwright, USC shot 50% from the field while limiting the Wildcats to just 32% for the period. Arizona also turned the ball over 12 times and connected on just 5 three pointers for the game. Boatwright finished USC with 22 points, while Shaqquaan Aaron and Thornton also ended the game in double figures.

“It was a nice win for our team,”Enfield said. “Our guys played very hard, shared the basketball, and our defense was excellent in the second half.”

With the win, USC moves on to take on Pac-12 player of the year Jaylen Nowell and #1 seed Washington tomorrow at 12:00 PST. The Huskies ousted the Trojans 75-62 in the their January matchup in Seattle.

Tags: Basketball
 
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