SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Delon Wright scored 22 points, collected six rebounds, six steals and five assists to lift Utah to an 84-66 victory over USC on Thursday night.
Dakarai Tucker added 18 points and made four 3-pointers while Jordan Loveridge chipped in 16 to help the Utes (13-4, 2-3 Pac-12) snap a two-game losing streak.
Pe’Shon Howard led USC with 16 points and J.T. Terrell chipped in 12. It wasn’t enough to prevent the Trojans (9-8, 0-4) from losing their fourth straight game in Pac-12 play.
USC lost despite shooting 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field. Utah matched the Trojans by shooting 49.2 percent (30-of-61) from the field. The Utes gained an advantage by also forcing 16 turnovers – including eight steals – and had a 27-14 edge in points off turnovers.
Utah broke open a close game early in the second half behind hot shooting from Tucker and Wright. The Utes used a 14-4 run to take control. Tucker sparked the run with a 3-pointer on Utah’s opening possession of the half. Wright capped it by converting a three-point play that gave Utah a 52-40 lead with 16:15 remaining.
USC did not go away. The Trojans chipped away at the lead and cut their deficit to five when Omar Oraby scored a layup to make it 60-55. Then Wright threw the hammer down and Utah ran away for good.
Wright fueled a decisive 17-2 run for Utah. He stole the ball from Oraby on consecutive possessions and turned each one into a layup to push the Utes’ lead back to double digits. When Dallin Bachynski capped the run with a dunk, Utah held a 77-57 lead with 4:51 remaining.
USC found ways to score in the paint throughout the first half. The Trojans slashed to the rim repeatedly while forcing Utah to settle for jump shots. They shot 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the field before halftime and outscored the Utes 22-18 in the paint.
For a while, it looked like that would be the exact formula USC needed to take control of the game before halftime.
USC twice carved out a four-point lead, going up 17-13 the second time on Oraby’s jumper. The Utes battled back, taking a one-point lead on a Loveridge 3-pointer. But the Trojans answered with a 7-0 run, which culminated in a dunk from Jacobs and a 24-18 USC lead with 8:04 remaining in the half.
Utah did not stay down for long. The Utes charged back in front on the strength of a 12-1 run. They retook a 30-25 lead with 4:19 left before halftime on back-to-back corner 3-pointers from Tucker.
Utah led by as much seven before halftime, going up 36-29 on Mario Kovacevic’s tip-in basket with 1:39 left. The Trojans rallied to cut the deficit down in the final minute and closed within 38-36 when Byron Wesley scored a layup with 16 seconds remaining in the half.