LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the rematch, the Trojans held on.
Nikola Jovanovic scored a season-high 28 points, Jordan McLaughlin added 21, and USC avenged its earlier loss with a 98-88 victory over Washington on Saturday afternoon.
USC on Jan. 3 blew a 22-point lead with 14 minutes remaining to lose 87-85 in the first matchup between the teams.
“We were really excited for this game,” said Jovanovic, who shot 10 of 13 from the floor. “That first loss hurt us. We wanted another shot at them.”
The Trojans (17-5, 6-3 Pac-12) led 44-33 at halftime and remained ahead the entire second half. They moved into a tie for second place in the Pac-12 with the win.
Bennie Boatwright scored 15 points, Katin Reinhardt had 11 and Elijah Stewart added 10 for USC.
The Trojans missed only eight shots (15 for 23) in the second half to hold off multiple charges from the Huskies (14-7, 6-3).
“We just remained poised,” McLaughlin said. “In practice we really worked on our press break and emphasized all our mistakes from last time so we wouldn’t make them again.”
Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray had 18 points apiece for Washington. The Huskies shot just 36.4 percent from the field and were 8 for 32 from 3-point range.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. “USC is so quick and has so much length that sometimes, even when you’re open, you’re thinking in the back of your mind ‘Where are they?’ I think that got in our head today.”
Despite their shooting struggles, the Huskies managed to whittle their 11-point halftime deficit to three points at 57-54 with 13:25 to go. Instead of folding like before, the Trojans fought back, ripping off a 17-7 run out of a timeout to re-extend their lead to double-digits, 74-61, with 8:45 left.
Jovanovic and Boatwright scored five points apiece during the run, and McLaughlin sank a 3-pointer that brought a packed Galen Center to its feet and forced Washington to call timeout.
“During the timeout we just told the guys not get frustrated or rattled when they turn up the pressure.” USCcoach Andy Enfield said. “The guys responded really well.”
Washington again rallied, and again USC answered. The Huskies cut the deficit to 78-73 with 6:03 to play, but Jovanovic poured in eight points as USC went on a 17-9 run to put the game away.
“I don’t know if we made very good decisions defensively on USC the second half,” Romar said.
“Fouling when we didn’t need to, certain coverages we were supposed to do we didn’t, lunging and getting out of position . if you make those type of mistakes against USC, they make you pay.”
Washington: The Huskies came up with 16 turnovers. They have forced at least 10 every game this season..Chriss made 7 of 13 field goals and is now 26 of 41 (63.4 percent) from the field in his last four games..Washington is just 3-3 since beginning conference play 3-0.
USC: The Trojans outrebounded the Huskies 42-36. They have won or tied the battle on the boards 17 times in 22 games this season..They finished 6 of 18 from 3-point range. They have made at least six 3-pointers in 19 games this season and lead the Pac-12 with 182 3-pointers made.USC has its best record through 22 games since going 18-4 in 1992.
USC improved to 13-0 at home, tying the program record set in 1943 for best home start to a season. They’ve won their home games by an average of 18.4 points per game.
Pac-12 leading scorer Andrew Andrews is mired in a big slump for Washington.
The redshirt senior guard scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting Saturday. He is now 11 for 34 (32.3 percent) from the floor in his last three games, including 3 for 12 mark from 3-point range.
He is averaging 14.7 points per game in the stretch, compared to 22.0 prior to it.
Washington hosts Arizona State on Wednesday.
USC hosts crosstown rival UCLA on Thursday.
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