Colorado Hands USC 6th Straight Loss, 83-74
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Xavier Johnson scored 20 points and Colorado completed a season sweep of Southern California with an 83-74 victory Sunday, sending USC to its sixth straight loss.
Five players scored in double figures for the Buffaloes (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12). This is the school’s best start after 26 games since the 1996-97 squad opened 19-7 and ended up in the NCAA tournament. But the Buffaloes are 5-4 since leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie’s season ended because of a torn ACL that occurred on Jan. 12 at Washington.
Johnson, Askia Booker (18 points), Josh Scott (17 points), Xavier Talton, and reserve Jaron Hopkins accounted for all but four of Colorado’s points, including a season-high eight 3-pointers.
Byron Wesley scored 21 points for the Trojans (10-15, 1-11), who are last in the conference under first-year coach Andy Enfield. Their only victory against a Pac-12 opponent was Jan. 22, when they beat California 77-68 at home.
The unranked Buffaloes were 21st in the AP poll the last time they faced the Trojans and beat them 83-62 on Jan. 18 at Boulder. The Trojans missed 11 of their first 12 shots in that one and fell behind 20-2 en route to an 83-62 loss in which they shot 36.8 percent. Colorado is 4-0 against USC since the former Pac-10 Conference expanded to Colorado and Utah, and 6-3 against the Trojans overall.
Enfield used his 10th different starting lineup, with freshman guard Kahlil Dukes and senior center D.J. Haley each getting the assignment for the second time this season. Sophomore guard Chass Bryan and sophomore forward Strahinja Gavrilovic each made their third start. The four of them combined for 13 points — including a game-opening 3 by Dukes, who didn’t score again.
In USC’s previous three games, the Trojans gave up runs of 12-0 to Oregon, 14-0 and 10-0 against UCLA and 15-0 against Utah in Thursday’s 79-71 loss. All of those rallies came in the first 10 minutes of the second half. This time, they had a pivotal lapse in the first 10 minutes of the first half that put them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of.
Wesley, the only player who has started every game for USC, converted a three-point play before Colorado went on a 15-2 run that turned a one-point deficit into a 22-12 lead with 11:15 left in the half. Hopkins scored all 10 of his points off the bench during the rally, including a pair of 3s.
The Buffaloes, who came in averaging a conference-leading five blocked shots, got their only one of the first half when 6-foot-10 forward Scott rejected a layup by J.T. Terrell and Booker converted a fast-break layup with 1:33 left to help Colorado take a 40-32 halftime lead.
The Trojans got no closer than six points after Terrell’s layup trimmed Colorado’s lead to 47-43 with 14:54 to play. Scott scored six points in a 2:44 span, including a dunk that gave the Buffaloes a 72-54 cushion with 3:55 remaining.
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