LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hovering near the bubble for the NCAA Tournament after a four-game losing streak, USC came out focused early Wednesday night and rolled to an 87-64 victory over Washington State.
Trojans guard Jordan McLaughlin fell one rebound shy of a college triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
USC (22-8, 9-8 Pac-12 Conference) had three others score in double figures, Chimezie Metu (15 points and nine rebounds), Bennie Boatwright (14 points) and Jonah Matthews (12).
USC never trailed, led by 20 at the half and by as many as 29 after the break.
“We were focused,” said USC coach Andy Enfield. “They know what’s at stake for our season.”
Washington State (13-16, 6-11) picked up 20 points off the bench from Robert Franks and another 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Josh Hawkinson. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for Washington State.
The Cougars were frustrated by USC’s tight defense, particularly in the first half. The Trojans outscored the Cougars 17-0 off turnovers at the break.
“We had way too many turnovers (11) in the first half,” said Washington State coach Ernie Kent. “We were gobbled up to start the game. They jumped out to a fast start and early lead, and by the time we settled in, they had the game.”
McLaughlin said the Trojans were keenly aware they could not afford another regular-season loss.
“We were all locked in,” McLaughlin said. “Coach said we had a two-game season starting tonight. Now we have a one-game season.”
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