LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chimezie Metu scored a career-high 31 points and Southern California beat UC Santa Barbara 98-87 on Sunday night, snapping the Gauchos’ seven-game winning streak.
Elijah Stewart added 19 points, Jonah Mathews had 16 points and Nick Rakocevic had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans (6-3). Jordan McLaughlin had a career-high 19 assists.
Gabe Vincent and Max Heidegger scored 17 points each for the Gauchos (8-3), who fell to 1-14 in the all-time series. Leland King II added 15 points.
USC hit five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the second half and opened a 73-48 lead, its largest of the game. Metu had consecutive long-range baskets.
The Gauchos answered with a 21-6 spurt, including eight by Vincent, to close to 79-69. But they never got closer.
Metu took over from there, scoring eight of USC’s next 10 points and extending the Trojans’ lead to 89-73. He had four dunks in the second half, two of them coming back-to-back during his offensive spurt. The junior forward had 20 points in the second half.
McLaughlin’s 3-pointer pushed USC’s lead to 98-78.
The Gauchos cut their deficit to 38-30 before the Trojans closed the half on a 14-3 run to lead 52-33 at the break. Stewart and Mathews scored five points each and Rakocevic added four.
UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos’ longest winning streak since 2015-16 ended in their first game after a weeklong break. Still, they are in the midst of a major turnaround under coach Joe Pasternack. Last season, the Gauchos were 1-9 through their first 10 games and finished with a 6-22 mark, which helped cost coach Bob Williams his job after 19 years. At 8-3, Pasternack is off to the best start of any first-year coach in school history.
USC: The Trojans have won two straight after losing three in a row. They beat a hot team in the Gauchos and did so in convincing fashion while in the midst of playing eight games in 18 days. They began the season with seven games in 34 days and went 4-3 in that stretch.
UC Santa Barbara: Hosts San Diego Christian on Tuesday.
USC: Hosts Princeton on Tuesday in the first of two potential matchups this season. The Tigers and USC both play in the same tournament in Hawaii at Christmas.
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