Southern California seeks its ninth straight win at home when it welcomes Utah for a Pac-12 Conference matchup, Saturday in Los Angeles.
USC (12-5, 4-2 Pac-12) rebounded from a two-game slide Thursday, winning in its first home game since Dec. 19 with a 68-61 defeat of Colorado. The Trojans trailed for just a little more than a minute of Thursday’s conference contest, but needed an 8-2 run down the stretch to put the Buffaloes away.
Drew Peterson scored two of his team-high 15 points on a pull-up, fadeaway jumper that gave USC a critical, three-point advantage with 1:35 remaining.
The Trojans’ strong finish contrasted its 60-58 loss Jan. 5 at rival UCLA, when USC – after coming back from down as many as 18 points – surrendered the game’s final four points to the Bruins.
“I was really hyped, because I really wanted to make a point…coming off of that UCLA game,” Joshua Morgan said in his postgame press conference.
Morgan finished with 12 points, made three steals and blocked three shots on Thursday. He scored just two points and had no rebounds in the UCLA loss.
Utah (12-6, 5-2) comes in off its own loss at UCLA, albeit more lopsided. The 68-49 rout on Thursday was the second consecutive defeat for the Utes, who started conference play 5-0 before a 70-60 setback Jan. 7 vs. Oregon.
Utah shot just 36.7 percent on Thursday and committed 16 turnovers.
‘The biggest thing is…we’ve got to take care of the ball,” Utes coach Craig Smith said in Thursday’s postgame press conference.
‘We have to value the ball and take better shots consistently. They have two great guards, Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, they make that team go. We have to neutralize them.”
Utah has been solid defensively much of the season, holding opponents to 42.8 percent and 27.3 percent shooting on 2-point and 3-point field-goal attempts – both top 10 nationally. However, the Utes commit turnovers on 19.3 percent of all offensive possessions per KenPom.com.
USC, meanwhile, forces turnovers on 19.2 percent of defensive possessions.
–Field Level Media