LOS ANGELES (AP) –– Delon Wright scored 21 and hot-shooting Utah kept Southern California in the Pac-12 cellar by holding off a late run Thursday night for a 79-71 victory in Galen Center.
The win, Utah’s third straight, moves the Runnin’ Utes (17-7, 6-6) into a tie for seventh in the conference with Washington. For the Trojans (10-14, 1-10), it was their fifth straight loss and 10th in their last 11 games — all in the Pac-12.
Utah broke the game open to start the second half for a 56-39 lead on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. The Utes never trailed in the second.
Wright, playing in his hometown, also led Utah with nine rebounds while Jordan Loveridge added 19 points.
Byron Wesley led the way for USC with 20 points.
Utah led 60-44 with 10:15 left in the game only to see USC claw back on a 23-11 run to trail 71-67 on a Nikola Jovanovic jumper with 3:15 to go. But that was as close as the Trojans could get.
Loveridge made the play of the game, hitting a three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:32 left to give Utah a 76-68 lead.
USC jumped out to a 21-14 lead in the first 10 minutes; the Trojans looked as if they were determined to escape the league cellar on this night. A win here would have pushed them past Washington State (2-10) into 11th place.
But Wright led a 14-2 run that turned the momentum and gave Utah a 36-31 halftime lead.
USC went with a new starting lineup featuring two players who had yet to start a game this season — D.J. Haley and Brendyn Taylor — and Strahinj Gavrilovic, who had started just once. It helped for a while and gave the Trojans nine first-half scorers.