Southern California brings a seven-game winning streak into Pullman, Wash., on Sunday for a Pac-12 Conference battle with a Washington State team coming off a heartbreaking loss.
USC (11-3, 3-0 Pac-12) overwhelmed Washington defensively on Friday, rallying from a deficit midway through the second half thanks to a stretch when the Trojans held the Huskies without a field goal for more than eight minutes.
USC outscored Washington down the stretch 25-9 en route to an 80-67 win.
Boogie Ellis — who is averaging career highs in scoring at 16.4 points, assists at 2.5 and steals with 1.6 per game — went for 27 points in Friday’s win. Big man Joshua Morgan continued his excellent rim protection with five blocked shots, bumping his average to three per game for the season.
“He just puts his hands up, he ‘talls’ up, he blocks it,” USC coach Andy Enfield said of Morgan’s defense, per USC Annenberg Media. “He’s got great timing.”
Washington State (5-9, 0-3) will try to solve the length of the Trojans’ defense, a characteristic of its opponent on Friday, UCLA, that gave Washington State fits down the stretch.
The Cougars built a nine-point lead in the latter portion of the second half against the No. 11-ranked Bruins but struggled to get clean looks at shots down the stretch. Coupled with UCLA’s ability to get into passing lanes — the Bruins made 10 steals, including Tyger Campbell’s that led to the game-winning score — Washington State fell just short of scoring a major upset in a 67-66 defeat.
The loss was Washington State’s third straight and fifth in the last six games. Of those five losses, four were by single digits — and all four of those were against opponents with KenPom.com rankings of No. 81 or better.
Including an overtime loss to Pac-12 counterpart Utah on Dec. 4, the Cougars have been on the cusp of beating quality opponents but unable to get over the hump.
“I’ll say all the cliches — ‘flush it’ — but I don’t think that’s real,” Washington State coach Kyle Smith told the Spokesman Review. “It’s gonna sting. It’ll hurt. You gotta come back and be mad, not sad about it and hopefully play harder and not feel sorry for yourself.”
–Field Level Media